news.com.au – 5 Oct, 2021 03:00 AM
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Israel has been heralded as one of the best performing nations when it comes to vaccination against the disease.
Shortly after trials were complete on vaccines, the nation of 9.3 million raced to get as many jabs in arms as quickly as possible – after striking a deal with Pfizer to trade medical data in exchange for a steady supply of doses.
Once the majority of the Middle Eastern nation’s adult population was fully vaccinated a few months ago, Israel lifted virtually all Covid-19 restrictions and a sense of normality returned.
However, anybody who has been following the impact of the Delta strain on Israel knows it has not been plain sailing ever since.
When daily case numbers hovered around zero at the beginning of their summer, Israel’s businesses reopened, mass gatherings resumed, and face masks were tossed away as people flocked to beaches and restaurants.
The optimism didn’t last long. By the beginning of September, cases had climbed to more than 20,000 a day, hospitalisations were rising and more than 50 deaths a day were being recorded.
Things were starting to look better at the beginning of this month – with cases and deaths dropping – but as winter begins to rear its head in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a fierce debate happening about what the next steps are for Israel.
It is all coming to a head this week, as the goalposts for vaccinated residents are about to shift in a major way.
From yesterday, the conditions for the nation’s Covid Green Pass – essentially a vaccine passport that allows inoculated residents to enter indoor venues – have been radically altered.
The shake-up means Israel is now the first country in the world to no longer provide its vaccination certificate to citizens who had received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago.
Under the new guidelines, people must have received a third jab, a booster shot, to be eligible for a green pass.
People who have received two vaccine doses, and those who have recovered from coronavirus, will be issued passes valid for six months after the date of their third booster shot or recovery.
It means that nearly 2 million people will lose their vaccination passport in the coming days – with the cull beginning yesterday.