Israel launches Covid booster shot campaign
Israel launched a campaign on Friday to give the over-60s coronavirus booster shots, at a time when the rest of the world is still struggling to complete the standard course. Kicking off the campaign, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, 60, received a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.
An Israeli epidemiologist of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Hagai Levine, acknowledged his country was going it alone with third shots. “This decision is based on experts’ opinion, on logic but not on solid scientific evidence, but that is okay,” Levine told AFP.
About 55% of Israel’s nine million population has been double vaccinated, most with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the start of the booster campaign for over 60s on Thursday, as concern mounts over the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.
“Israel is a pioneer in going ahead with third doses for people of the age of 60 and above,” said the 49-year-old premier who accompanied Herzog to the hospital for the jab.
“The fight against the Covid pandemic is a global fight. The only way we can defeat Covid is together,” he said.
In the US, President Joe Biden stopped short of a vaccination mandate for federal workers but has asked all four million US federal workers and on-site contractors to attest to their vaccination status and those who do not declare they are fully vaccinated must wear masks and be tested.
Japan expands Covid-19 emergency as cases surge
Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo on Friday following record spikes in infections as the capital hosts the Olympics.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared an emergency in Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, near Tokyo, as well as in the western city of Osaka, effective Monday until August 31. However, Suga said that the surge in infections is unrelated to the ongoing Olympics.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been locked down in China’s Jiangsu province, while 41,000 came under stay-at-home orders in Beijing’s Changping district to curb a virus outbreak.