September 7. Israel, once a front-runner in the global race to move on from Covid-19, is now one of the world’s biggest pandemic hot spots.
The country that was once predicted to be the first to vaccinate its entire population had the highest per-capita caseload of anywhere in the week through Sept. 4, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Its world-beating inoculation rate, meanwhile, has tumbled down the league table.
The nation of 9 million became the test case for reopening society and the economy in April when much of Europe and the U.S. were still in some form of lockdown. Yet Israel now shows how the calculus is changing in places where progress was fastest. It’s no longer just about whether people get coronavirus, but also how badly they get it and ensuring that vaccines are still working as the highly infectious delta variant threatens to undermine immunity.
More recently, it has led the way when it comes to vaccinating children and rolling out a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after research suggested reduced efficacy over time. Around 100,000 Israelis are getting inoculated every day, the vast majority of them with a third shot.
“If you are able to maintain life without lockdown, and to avoid very high numbers of hospitalizations and death, then this is what life with Covid looks like,” said Eyal Leshem, a professor specializing in infectious diseases at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Ha-Shomer.