Israel health chief rejects call to extend period between Covid vaccinations as death toll mounts

Successful roll-out has led to a shortage in the vaccine


The director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry has rejected a suggestion from his deputy to increase the interval between doses of the Covid vaccine beyond three weeks to enable more people to receive vaccinations.

In a radio interview on Sunday morning, the director-general, Professor Hezi Levy, stressed the ministry’s commitment to administering the two doses in accordance with the instructions from Pfizer, whose vaccine is the only one currently being used in Israel. He did, however, indicate that the policy would be reviewed if scientific evidence was presented.

His deputy, Professor Itamar Grotto, who is due to step down at the end of the month, had suggested that given the shortage of supplies, Israel could follow the UK’s decision to extend the period between doses.

Professor Levy also voiced concern at the death toll from the virus and the number of patients in serious condition, warning that the current lockdown "will not reduce the infection rate” and calling for restrictions to be tightened.

There were 6,289 new cases reported yesterday and a further 36 deaths, bringing the total to 3,392.

Israel has attracted worldwide recognition for the speed of its vaccination programme. By Friday, more than a million Israelis had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, representing some 11 per cent of the population, the highest proportion recorded by any country.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned last week that the successful roll out would result in a temporary shortage in the Pfizer vaccine.

He pledged that those who had received the first dose would receive their second on schedule.


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