As Israel's coronavirus outbreak continues on its downward trajectory of recent weeks, a World Health Organization senior official on Sunday praised the country's decision to become the first in the world to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to its citizens.
"Israel was right when it started giving [the booster] before the FDA’s approval,” said Dr. Dorit Nitzan, the Regional Emergency Director for the European Region at the international health body. "Israel was among the first to give the booster, and it is among the first to continue making progress. Israel is a pioneer, and that's important.”
Israel, which almost solely uses the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, has made the supplementary jab available to its entire population aged 12 and over back in August and has seen record numbers of daily coronavirus infections and severely ill patients taper down nationwide significantly.
According to Nitzan, Israel is close to taming its fourth wave of infections, fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, thanks to its trailblazing booster shot push which has thus far seen over 3.8 million Israelis receive their third vaccine dose.
"Israel is coming out of it... but it must not rest on its laurels. It must learn a lesson from the previous wave and come out of the wave slowly, patiently,” said Nitzan.
However, the WHO official warned of new coronavirus variants making their way into the country, potentially exacerbating the country's flu season.
"We do not yet know how the two illnesses get along with each other. Variants and mutations also continue to develop, but in the meantime, the Delta variant is very strong and knocks the rest to the margins,” Nitzan said.