James Kamara Sami, Covid, Israeli Health Ministry discussed on BBC Newshour

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Listening to the BBC World Service and this is NewsHour coming to live from London with James Kamara Sami Israel was the first country to roll out vaccinations against COVID-19 but will it also be the first to achieve herd immunity That's what the director general of the Israeli health ministry has suggested could happen in the next three weeks with the omikron variant now beginning to surge through the country Israel has been the earliest adopter of first second and booster doses and today prime minister Naftali Bennett confirmed that everyone over 60 and all medical staff will be offered a fourth dose although only 60% of the population has been fully vaccinated Professor nadar davidovich is director of the public health school at Ben gurion university and a scientific adviser to the Israeli government Israel is very similar now to what's happening around the globe The omicron zero coefficient is about 7 So every two to three days we have doubling of cases and although it seems it's severely less than previous variants still because of big numbers we're going to see high burden on the healthcare system because of the high rates of transmission probably we need to change the rules of contact tracing It's going to be less efficient and also so many people are going to be positive that we need to see how we can continue emergency services on the other hand of things that are going to be the same We need to encourage vaccination especially first second then those we started to vaccinate with those in a compromise and in the elderly care homes I just wonder what is the evidence and for the fourth dose is it not too early to tell whether the third dose is enough You know these are the times we don't have the option to wait maybe too long and we know that the vaccine is very safe We know that one is here We see that there is a waning immunity represented both in the laboratory and the field of biological evidence So in a state of emergency things are very unclear when it's quite safe and you don't know for sure what to be the utilities still public can not take the risk and I think that it's prudent enough to start with a compromise people and elderly care homes and of course not by compassion but people that are interested and continue to do the surveillance and share that these are not regular times and we can not have the privilege to wait for more information about this will take several weeks and to be already the health ministry is saying that there is the potential within a few weeks for herd immunity to be reached Is that something that you would also agree There's likely to be the case I think we need to be very careful in making these kinds of assumptions We have a plan The best way to get 30 minutes approximation I don't think that people should get the message that it's better to have natural infection because it has its own risks on COVID And of course even if vaccinated you can maybe sometimes visibly ill I wish that having this omicron maybe a way of getting to a community But probably it's not something that we can be sure about So we need to continue our plan vaccinations other ways such masks and preventing maybe large gatherings We don't need to forget that vaccinations and other measures are not working against the emotional aspects social economics So we need to have a healthy policy approach and engage with all the different governments I hear your caution on herd immunity And I just wonder is it a useful term given what we know of reinfections for example with omicron and the idea that there could be other variants that come along with different properties So how do immunity for concept We prefer maybe community impunity or something like that because we are not heard I think it's a very interesting term but I'm not sure it's right now useful because of infections because we see lots of mutations and variants And because we see such huge gaps around the globe in vaccination rates So until we're not getting to much higher access for all countries I think it will be very difficult to speak about sustainable herd immunity So we need to continue to learn the recent year giving vaccines but of course it's not enough and we need a multilayer approach That was professor Nadal davidovic scientific adviser to the Israeli government Lebanon is entering 2022 in a state of political and economic paralysis Its cabinet hasn't met in almost three months its currency continues to lose value and deep divisions have caused the investigation into the deadly Beirut port explosion of 2020 to stall There are elections do this year but arguments over their date have led to fears that they won't take place at all Our Middle East.

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