An immunology expert warned Tuesday that Israel must be on alert to prevent the entry of the pathogen's far more dangerous Brazilian strain, despite the country's continued drop in coronavirus infection rates.
"Between 20 to 60 percent of the population in the Brazilian city of Manaus contracted coronavirus for a second after already recovering from it," said Prof. Cyrille Cohen of Bar-Ilan University.
"In Chile, where almost 30% of the population received the vaccine in one of the fastest inoculation drives in the world, they had to go again into lockdown," he said.
Asked whether the Brazilian strain could make its way to Israel, Cohen said: "Of course. The moment you reopen Ben-Gurion Airport it can happen."
"Sure, they test people, but what happens if a person catches it on a plane or a day before takeoff and there is no way to discover it?"
Regarding Israel's steady decline in the number of coronavirus cases in the wake of its massive vaccine campaign, Cohen said it was "nothing short of a miracle."
"We did not think the vaccine would be so effective, to the point where morbidity will continue to drop, despite relaxing of restrictions. All of this is beyond expectations, it is almost too beautiful to be true," he said.
In his opinion, Cohen says that Israel is a sort of "bubble" on the world stage when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.
"I get interviewed by European outlets and I know they look at us with jealousy," he said.
"They still have lockdowns over there. Europe is at the point we were in January, but with one difference: they are not vaccinating at the pace we have," Cohen said.
"In France, about 10% of the population have received their first dose, in Germany a little more. In the UK they are talking about 30 to 40 percent of the population and they see the decline in cases, while France's ICUs are collapsing."