Israel Warns a ‘Storm Is Coming’ as Government Rolls Out Fourth Covid Jab

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that a “storm of Covid is coming” as his government rolls out a fourth vaccination shot.

Bennett announced the introduction of a second “booster” jab for all over-60s and medical workers as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads through the country.

Speaking during a TV speech on Sunday, Bennett urged older Israelis to protect themselves from the “Omicron wave” of Covid with a fourth vaccine.

While calling on the public to get the additional dose, the prime minister warned that daily case tolls will soon reach record levels.

Bennett predicts that infections will top “50,000 per day soon.”

Such a number would be more than double Israel’s previous peak of 22,000 cases in September last year.

The country is currently logging around 6,000 cases per day.

But he also noted that the fourth vaccine will initially be aimed at preventing serious illness in the most vulnerable.

Israel was a world leader with Covid vaccines, having completed its initial roll-out faster than most other countries, allowing it to lift lockdown early in 2020.

Israel has fully vaccinated around 64 percent of its total population, lower than the EU average of 70 percent, and well-below world leaders such as Portugal – on 90 percent – and Spain – on 80 percent.

Vaccines, which were developed to fight earlier variants of Covid, are thought to be markedly less effective at preventing the spread of Omicron – a super-mutant variant of the virus which is harder for the body’s immune system to recognize.

However, world leaders are encouraging their populations to get boosters in the hope they will be effective at preventing serious illness and death.

Omicron has caused global cases of Covid to soar since it was first identified in South Africa in November last year, with an average of just over one million cases detected each day between Dec. 24 and 30, Reuters data showed.

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Deaths, however, have not risen to the same degree, raising hopes that the new variant is less lethal and may herald the pandemic “end game” in which Covid becomes a low-level endemic disease similar to flu.

In Germany, the head of the country’s association of senior hospital doctors said that the Omicron variant could ease pressure on its health system if it turns out to produce milder illness, even though infections are rising.

However, of the recorded cases of Omicron in Germany, almost 96 percent of people who tested positive for the COVID-19 variant are “fully vaccinated,” according to a new government report.

The report was compiled by the German federal government agency Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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