Wednesday, February 24, 2021
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“Corona infection rate is 4.5 times greater than the official figure”

About 37% of a large group of subjects who were not vaccinated against corona and did not count known recoverers were found to have antibodies to the virus. This emerges from an analysis of data on serological tests conducted by the National Health Fund.

These are subjects who have not been vaccinated, who have not recovered and who have not been found to be positive on a marker test (PCR) – and therefore were not supposed to have antibodies.

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This is a significant and even dramatic figure that may indicate that the extent of morbidity in Israel – as well as the extent of recovery – is greater than is known. Article link

The practical implication may be that Israel is closer to herd immunity compared to previous assessments.

A serological test is a blood test that detects antibodies, including various viruses, including the virus that causes coronary heart disease. Article link

The presence of antibodies indicates that the subject has been infected with the virus in the past. According to official data from the Ministry of Health in Israel, as of yesterday, about 752,000 verified patients have been identified since the outbreak of the plague. This is about 8.1% of the total population of Israel.

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The new data revealed by Leumit’s laboratory system, headed by Dr. Yotam Shenhar, ostensibly indicates that the proportion of Israelis infected with the virus – and apparently asymptomatic, meaning that they did not have the usual symptoms – is much larger than known, up to 4.6 times. Even if the working assumption from the beginning of the epidemic was that there are asymptomatic virus carriers, it is still a surprise to find that 40% of the subjects, who were not vaccinated or recovered, contracted the virus and developed antibodies.

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The National Health Insurance Fund clarifies that this is not a representative sample, but it is nevertheless a large sample of 18,000 subjects. Moreover, there is some bias among the subjects as many of them testified that they were in the vicinity of a verified patient but were not tested on PCR or received a negative answer. This is a surprising proportion of antibodies: “Article link

The data indicate a very high exposure to the virus,” explains Dr. Shenhar.

In a conversation with Calcalist, Shenhar said that in recent times there has been a jump in the demand for serological tests among Israelis who want to examine the possibility of avoiding a vaccine, such as pregnant women. Shenhar emphasizes in this context that his unequivocal recommendation is still – to get vaccinated.

The director of Leumit's laboratories, Dr. Yotam Shenhar.  Director of Leumit Laboratories, Dr. Yotam Shenhar. “More than 1,000 serological tests a day” Photo: National Spokeswoman

Recently, there has been a growing interest in vaccines – and it is also possible to avoid them without skipping the benefits provided under the green label – towards the selective opening of certain parts of the economy to vaccinators and recoverers only. This is mainly in the cultural, sports sector, including gyms and swimming pools. Because, as mentioned, vaccinators and recoverers have the same rights, there is also a growing desire of more citizens to check if they have antibodies.

A serological test for corona, which proves that the subject has antibodies, confers a “certificate of recovery” and allows its owner to enjoy the benefits of vaccinators, and therefore the demand for these tests is on the rise. “Article link

The amount is growing, and we already perform more than 1,000 serological tests per day,” says Shenhar.

Serological examination at Sheba Hospital.  High rate of antibody holders Serological examination at Sheba Hospital. High rate of antibody holders Photo: Abigail Uzi

Leumit intends to deepen the segmentation of the results of the serological tests and try to better characterize the population that was found to have antibodies, in order to achieve segmentation by sectors.

And yet River disclaims: “To achieve natural herd immunity requires some sort of vaccination of 80% -70% of the population. But there is no doubt that more people who are naturally vaccinated following recovery reduce the virus’ ability to infect and thus the rate of infection. Natural immunity, along with the vaccine “We are definitely brought closer to herd immunity.”

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