One of the most vaccinated societies, Israel now has one of the highest infection rates in the world, raising questions about the vaccine’s efficacy.
JERUSALEM — Last spring, Israel’s remarkably swift vaccination campaign was seen as a global model. Coronavirus infections plummeted, an electronic pass allowed the vaccinated to attend indoor concerts and sporting events, and distancing rules and mask mandates were eventually scrapped.
Israel offered the world a hopeful glimpse of the way out of the pandemic.
A fourth wave of infections is rapidly approaching the levels of Israel’s worst days of the pandemic last winter. The daily rate of confirmed new virus cases has more than doubled in the last two weeks, making Israel a rising hot spot on the international charts.
Restrictions on gatherings and commercial and entertainment venues were reinstated this week, and the government is considering a new lockdown.
“I believe we are at war,” Israel’s coronavirus commissioner, Prof. Salman Zarka, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
Scientists are still assessing how Israel’s pandemic response plunged from shining example to cautionary tale, and the stunning reversal has provided a crucial test for Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who staked a claim for leadership partly on the strength of his manifesto, “How to Beat a Pandemic.”
But some experts fear that Israel’s high rate of infections among early vaccine recipients may indicate a waning of the vaccine’s protections over time, a finding that contributed to a U.S. decision Wednesday to begin offering booster shots to Americans starting next month.