Nearly half of adults in Israel infected by the COVID-19 Delta variant were completely inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine before catching the new strain, prompting Israeli government officials to reimpose an indoor mask mandate, a new report revealed Friday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Israeli health officials have determined that around 90 percent of new infections are the result of the Delta variant, a new highly contagious strain which first appeared in India. Children under the age of 16, the majority of whom have not been vaccinated, make up nearly half of those infected in Israel, noted Ran Balicer, head of the nation’s expert advisory panel on COVID-19.
“The entrance of the Delta variant has changed the transmission dynamics,” Balicer said.
The mask requirement applies to anyone over the age of seven, unless individuals have verified medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask. Face coverings are also not required during indoor exercise or when someone is alone indoors, according to Israeli National News.
Balicer said the outbreak was expected because although the vaccine is extremely effective at combating the virus, it does not guarantee 100 percent protection.
Daily cases jumped to 200 on Thursday from just 10 for the majority of June, the Journal reported, with only five severe cases being reported in Israel over the past 10 days.
Last week, public health official Dr. Anthony Fauci called the newest COVID-19 variant the “greatest threat” to the United States’ efforts to eradicate the virus during a White House press conference on the pandemic.
CNBC reported that studies show delta is about 60 percent more transmissible than alpha, a variant that first appeared in the U.K., which was already more contagious than the original strain that originated in Wuhan, China.
A number of states are continuing to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but CNN reported that experts are concerned that those who have yet to be vaccinated will now be fighting a more transmissible variant.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that just over 66 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, falling just shy of President Joe Biden’s goal of at least 70 percent of adults receiving at least one shot by Independence Day. Around 16 states and Washington, DC, have met the president’s goal, but a number of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming, have vaccinated less than 40 percent of their residents.
In the United Kingdom, the delta variant has already become dominant, making up over 60 percent of new cases in the nation.
“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky said on “Good Morning America” last week, contradicting trends seen in Israel in recent days. Walensky asserted during the interview that vaccinated individuals will “be protected against this delta variant.”