The Health Ministry announced Tuesday that its Central Virology Laboratory had discovered an Israel coronavirus variant.
The ministry said that the new mutation, dubbed P681H, was discovered in 181 cases since last July.
The ministry said that the strain had not been associated with higher infection rates nor does it appear to cause more serious illness or be vaccine-resistant in any way and that the British variant remains the dominant strain in Israel.
"Mutations appear all the time," explained Prof. Gili Regev, director of the Infection Prevention and Control Unit at Sheba Medical Center.
"The fact that one was identified here is not surprising and initially of course we had concerns over whether it is resistant to the vaccines, which now appears not to be the case. The development of local mutations is a natural course of events and happen all the time and we must be on alert and discover any new variants before they can become an issue."
In a report published in January, the IDF Intelligence Directorate attached to the Health Ministry, warned of the appearance of a domestic coronavirus variant. "In addition to the arrival of a variants from abroad, there could also be the possibility of some developing in Israel given a large number of unvaccinated people and an infection wave occurring while a mass vaccination campaign is underway," the report said.
In order to deal with such a scenario, the military suggested that restrictions on entry into the country be tightened and that a rapid sequencing mechanism be put in place.
First published: 20:45 , 03.30.21