A World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday the eyes of the world are locked on Israel as the country became the first to offer its public a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
"We're looking at Israel as a wonderful and vibrant country that carries the message of the World Health Organization, which seeks to vaccinate all countries so that no more mutations and variants spring up, we're learning with Israel and from Israel," Dr. Dorit Nitzan told the Ynet studio.
Since Israel launched its booster shot campaign last week, more than 500,000 Israelis over the age of 60 have already received their third dose of the vaccine.
"We're still not recommending the booster shot on a global scale, but we have no doubt it will reach the rest of the world. We're not worried about its safety, we're worried about the rest of the world getting vaccinated while new mutations are being generated. We fear a variant that won't react to vaccines as well as we want," she said.
"We aim for so-called health security. In order for all of us on the planet to have health security, everyone needs to be under a layer of immunity. Until that happens, the mutations and variants will continue to pop up in pockets of unvaccinated population, and we will all suffer."
When asked about the option of Israel going into lockdown amid an ongoing rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Dr. Nitzan said she did not view lockdowns as an effective approach to combating the disease and commended the government for its patient conduct.
"We have seen in the Netherlands and in other countries that lockdowns are not required because the community, the people, do respond to it correctly, keep their distance, put masks in confined places. Still, maintain your hygiene, do not expect to be looked after, do not expect to be told how to behave… it really helps to let the people have control, to let the people hold the reins, but to that end, the state has to give them the proper tools," she said.
The doctor added personal responsibility rather than lockdowns are the answer to curbing the pandemic.
"I am very pleased with the tone of the Israeli government that says 'let's wait and go slowly, without threats, handing over the reins to the community, to the people.'
"We'd only use lockdowns in extreme cases. Lockdowns are not a solution, they are not educating us about how we must behave. What educates us is taking responsibility over ourselves, learning and caring for each other."