Israel is testing 1.4 million children for coronavirus antibodies
- Israel is set to begin a national coronavirus antibody survey of children between the ages of 3 and 12.
- The effort is an attempt to measure the extent to which Covid-19 has spread undetected among kids.
- The news comes as the Israeli campaign to distribute third Covid-19 booster shots speeds up.
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Israel is expected to begin a national antibody survey of children between the ages of 3 and 12, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The large-scale testing effort is an attempt by the Healthy Ministry, Education Ministry, and IDF Home Front Command to measure the extent to which the coronavirus has spread undetected among Israeli children over the last 18 months.
1,400 Home Front Command teams will conduct finger-prick blood tests at numerous locations around the country, the report said, in an attempt to test as many of Israel's 1.4 million children as possible. Test results are provided within 15 minutes.
While previous testing surveys were conducted to understand more about asymptomatic infections among crowds, this survey is intended to understand possible spread among young people. The current belief is that many Israeli children were infected with the coronavirus over the last months but never showed signs of infection, leading them to go undiagnosed.
The testing comes as the Delta variant of the disease rips through parts of the world. Israel is seeing a new surge in cases despite high vaccination rates and early success with the Pfizer vaccine.
The government's hope is that a significant number of children who are still ineligible for vaccination will be found with antibodies, making them eligible for a Green Pass, which would exempt them from mandatory isolation and testing.
The effort is expected to provide relief to the Israeli education and healthcare systems, allowing children to embrace greater ease in daily efforts such as attending school and going about regular routines.
Weekend data from the Health Ministry shows that the number of serious Covid-19 cases has increased by 45 to over 650, though the average number of individuals each coronavirus carrier infects has dropped to 1.2.
The news comes as the campaign to distribute Covid-19 booster shots to the Israeli population ramps up, with individuals over 40 now eligible for their third dose. According to the latest data, over 1.3 million have received the booster so far.
Israel's move to begin offering boosters set off a wave of wealthy countries doing the same. The US, the UK, Germany, and France are all either prepared or approved to start rolling out booster shots in September.