Israel saw a sharp decline in the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the second part of February, health officials said Monday.
The Health Ministry said 2,393 people have died from the coronavirus since early 2021, and 1,459 succumbed to the disease in January and a slight decline, to 934 in February. These numbers represent the average of 40 deaths per day.
In the first half of January, there were an average of 53 deaths from COVID-19 per day and the successful vaccination campaign that began in December is credited with reducing deaths.
In fact, in the second half of February, the average daily death rate dropped to 25 virus-related deaths per day.
Those numbers are still considered high compared to the last month of 2020, when 488 people died from the virus. An average of 16 deaths per day.
In November, 313 people died from COVID, indicating an average of 10 deaths per day, while October 2020 had 957 deaths, a daily average of 32 deaths as a result of complications from the virus.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, there has been a reduction not only in deaths during the month of February, but also in the number of severe COVID-19 cases under treatment in hospitals.
The ministry said 742 people are currently in serious condition, the lowest number since January 2, 2021, representing a reduction of 43%. Once again, vaccines are credited with decreasing serious illnesses caused by the coronavirus.
But, as those over the age of 60 become largely immune through vaccines, the average age of seriously ill patients has dropped. As of Monday, 57.1% of seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19 appear to be over 60 years old, while 40% are between 30 and 59 years old.
One in five patients, 20.2%, is between 50 and 59 years old, 10.7% is 40 years old, 7.4% is 30 years old.
Currently, there are 17 critically ill adults in their 20s and 15 adolescents and children still hospitalized with symptoms.
The Health Ministry also reported Monday that the factor indicating community spread (R) has risen to 1, up from 0.79 just two weeks ago, raising concerns that the contagion rate is increasing once again.
In the Arab sector, meanwhile, the R is even higher at 1.16, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call a special meeting to discuss low participation in vaccination in Arab communities. The ultra-Orthodox community currently shows an R factor of 0.82.
Israel began lifting its closure restrictions earlier this month, and shopping malls reopened last week. Mass improvised Purim festivals also took place over the weekend despite the nightly curfew imposed on the three days of the holiday. Medical officials see this change in public behavior as a catalyst for further infection.
Among those who are infected with the virus at a faster rate are younger populations, some of which show no symptoms.
Of all new infections on Sunday, 76.7% are under the age of 39 and only 5.2% are over 60. A closer look at the data shows that 43.4% of new infections detected on Sunday they were in the 0-19 age group.
Netanyahu posted on his Twitter account on Monday that 97% of recent deaths occurred in patients who had not received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
“I cannot bear the delegitimization of vaccines by cynical politicians. I have zero tolerance for fake news, as I fight to save lives,” Netanyahu said in his post, calling on Israelis to get vaccinated.
There is a politician who has spoken out against vaccines.
In an interview on Kan Radio on Monday, Netanyahu was asked if Israel is approaching 6,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. He responded with a derogatory comment directed at one of his now-political opponents, former Likud legislator Yifat Shasha-Biton, who headed a Knesset oversight committee that has blocked some of Netanyahu’s policies and criticized his handling of the pandemic.
“Ask Yifat Shasha-Biton,” Netanyahu said, mocking his name.
Yoaz Hendel, a former aide to Netanyahu and now along with Shasha-Biton a member of Gideon Saar’s New Hope party, said in response that it is sad to hear the prime minister joking about so many Israeli deaths.