JERUSALEM (ISRAEL): Israel has registered eight cases of COVID-19 variant first identified in India. Israeli health official said that they believe the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it.
An initial seven cases of the Indian variant were detected in Israel last week among people arriving from abroad and who have since undergone preliminary testing, the Health Ministry said.
“The impression is that the Pfizer vaccine has efficacy against it, albeit a reduced efficacy,” the ministry’s director-general, Hezi Levy, told Kan public radio, saying the number of cases of the variant in Israel now stood at eight.
The ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for more details on the research into the Indian variant.
The novel variant, designated B.1.617, was reported by India’s health ministry in late march (https://bit.ly/3tzfy0p). It contains an E484K mutation, which has been associated with immune escape by other variants, and another mutation known as L425R, which may increase its transmissibility.
Britain and Ireland have also said they are investigating the variant after detecting it within their borders.
Israel, whose population is 9.3 million, has fully vaccinated around 81% of citizens or residents over the age of 16. COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations are down sharply.