Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Israel faces fresh Covid surge and calls for teens to be jabbed as even the fully-vaccinated catch Delta variant of the virus

Israel is facing a fresh surge of coronavirus cases leading to calls for teenagers to be given jabs as even the fully vaccinated are catching the Delta variant of the virus.

Israel recorded 125 new cases on Monday - the most per day since April, in a country where more than half the population has been fully vaccinated.

The country's latest outbreaks were identified in several schools during random testing and came after Israel rolled back nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions.

According to local newspaper Haaretz nine fully-vaccinated teachers in two schools were among those who contracted the virus, as were three fully-vaccinated members of the military, the Israeli Defence Forces announced.

At the peak of the country's outbreak in January, Israel was recording some 10,000 daily cases but has since been able to get it under control thanks to its world-leading vaccination programme.

On Tuesday, newly-elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of a 'new outbreak' of coronavirus in Israel after the rise in infections, that he said was likely due to returning travellers carrying the Delta variant.

'Our goal is to end it, to take a bucket of water and pour it on the fire when the fire is still small,' Bennett said at Ben Gurion airport, where the government announced an expanded testing facility would be set up.

Bennett noted that a recent spike in infections appeared to be due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus that likely came from overseas.

An outbreak in the town of Binyamina, north of Tel Aviv, saw more than 1,000 people quarantined and appeared to be due to travellers returning from Cyprus, he said. 'Whoever doesn't have to fly abroad, please don't,' Bennett added.

Israel remains largely closed to non-citizens.

Last month, the country expanded its vaccine eligibility to include teenagers, but left the decision up to parents.

Defence minister Benny Gantz has ordered the military and the civil defence to renew its efforts to test the population and to keep the contract department open that was shut down.

On Tuesday, the health ministry announced that 49,044 tests had been conducted over the past day, with a positivity rate of 0.3 percent.

Bennett, who ousted former premier Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, said he was reconvening a 'corona cabinet' to handle the challenge.

'We reached an initial decision to treat this as a new outbreak,' Bennett said.

Israel launched a sweeping vaccination campaign after obtaining millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

More than 55 percent of Israel's population - some 5.2 million people - have received both doses of the vaccine.

Nearly a third of the new cases recorded in the past week have been found in vaccinated people, with many of the new infections being the delta variant.

Hezi Levi, the health ministry director-general, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 on Monday said that most of the cases among vaccinated individuals are mild, but called on parents to have their children vaccinated.

Bennett urged parents to get their children vaccinated too, calling for children aged 12 and older to get jabs 'as quickly as possible'.

Health ministry figures show that young people aged 10-19 were the most affected by the virus last month.

On June 15, Israel lifted its requirement to wear face masks in enclosed public places - one of the last measures in force to fight the country's outbreak.

IN total, the country has recorded over 840,000 novel coronavirus cases, including 6,428 deaths.


New Study Links Ivermectin to ‘Large Reductions’ in COVID-19 Deaths

The use of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin could lead to “large reductions” in COVID-19 deaths and may have a “significant impact” on the pandemic globally, according to a recent pre-print review based on peer-reviewed studies.

For the study (pdf), published June 17 in the American Journal of Therapeutics, a group of scientists reviewed the clinical trial use of ivermectin, which has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, in 24 randomized controlled trials involving just more than 3,400 participants. The researchers sought to assess the efficacy of ivermectin in reducing infection or mortality in people with COVID-19 or at high risk of getting it.

Using multiple methods of sequential analysis, the researchers concluded with a moderate level of confidence that the drug reduced the risk of death in COVID-19 patients by an average of 62 percent, at a 95 percent confidence interval of 0.19–0.79, in a sample of 2,438 patients.

Among hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the risk of death was found to be 2.3 percent among those treated with the drug, compared to 7.8 percent for those who weren’t, according to the review.

“Moderate-certainty evidence finds that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin. Using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease,” the authors wrote.

Since the start of the pandemic, both observational and randomized studies have evaluated ivermectin as a treatment for, and as prevention against, COVID-19 infection.

“A review by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance summarized findings from 27 studies on the effects of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection, concluding that ivermectin ‘demonstrates a strong signal of therapeutic efficacy’ against COVID-19,” the researchers wrote, referring to one recent review, which was based on data from both peer-reviewed studies and pre-print manuscripts.

They cited another recent review that concluded that ivermectin reduced deaths by as much as 75 percent, while noting that neither the National Institutes of Health in the United States nor the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of ivermectin outside clinical trials for use against COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a note on “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19,” warns that it has received “multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses.”

“Using any treatment for COVID-19 that’s not approved or authorized by the FDA, unless part of a clinical trial, can cause serious harm,” the FDA said in the note, adding that it hasn’t reviewed data to support the use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients.

The WHO said in March that “the current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive” and that, until more data becomes available, the agency recommends that “the drug only be used within clinical trials.”

The authors of the efficacy study argued, however, that the drug has an “established safety profile through decades of use” and “could play a critical role in suppressing or even ending the SARS-CoV2 pandemic.”

“The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally,” they wrote in the study abstract.

The authors noted in their publication that all the studies on which they based their conclusions have been peer-reviewed.




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