Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
Photo: AFP
Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020

Just 2-3% of Israelis have been exposed to coronavirus, study finds

Health Ministry serological survey indicates 270,000 people at most have antibodies for pathogen, out of population of 8.6 million; scientist says findings prove effectiveness of lockdown, but Israel far from herd immunity

Sarit Rosenblum |
Published: 06.02.20 , 12:24
Only 200-270,000 Israelis, constituting about 2-3 percent of the country's 8.6 million population, have contracted the novel coronavirus, according to a serological survey published on Monday.
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  • The survey, conducted by the Health Ministry in tandem with Tel Aviv University, examined 1,700 blood tests of people from different age groups across the country, looking for IGG antibodies that indicate an immune response to the virus.
    Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020 Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
    Recovered coronavirus patient Yoram Carmeli donates blood samples for plasma extraction at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
    (Photo: AFP)
    Such antibodies usually develop two or three weeks after initial exposure, and they also occur in people who have been exposed to the virus and have not developed any symptoms of the disease.
    The blood samples were taken during the months of March and April and are supposed to reflect the state of exposure to the virus in the preceding weeks.
    A medical worker holds a plasma sample extracted from blood donated by recovered coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020 A medical worker holds a plasma sample extracted from blood donated by recovered coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
    A medical worker holds a plasma sample extracted from blood donated by recovered coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center, June 1, 2020
    (Photo: AFP)
    Antibody presence was slightly higher in people aged 40-60, and lower between the ages of 0-19.
    Such antibodies are more prevalent among men than women, and more prevalent among residents of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv than Haifa.
    בדיקת קורונה בדיקה קופת חולים מכבי רחובותבדיקת קורונה בדיקה קופת חולים מכבי רחובות
    Health workers conduct coronavirus testing in Rehovot in central Israel
    (Photo: AFP)
    "Only 17,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded to date, but our survey shows that for every confirmed case, there are between 11 and 16 additional cases that have not been detected," said Prof. Danny Cohen of Tel Aviv University.
    "The findings indicate that the lockdown did its job well and only a few percents of the population were exposed to the virus. Therefore, we are very far from herd immunity."
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