Serology tests scaled down to encourage vaccination – report

The Health Ministry will reportedly be limiting serological tests to people who have medical reasons for taking the tests or who have returned to Israel from other countries.

Responding to an increase in demand for serology tests, which detect antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered from the disease or been vaccinated, the Health Ministry has decided to restrict access in an effort to encourage vaccination, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

Formerly, serology tests, which are administered by health providers or in hospitals, were available to anyone.

Now, however, they will only be available to two groups. Those with adequate medical reasons will be allowed to get tested; for example, people with a weak immune system, or pregnant women who suspect they were ill with COVID-19 in the past and want to test for antibodies before getting vaccinated.

Medical technicians test passengers for the coronavirus at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

In addition, people arriving to Israel from abroad, who want to prove recovery from the virus or vaccination abroad, will be allowed to get tested.

The Health Ministry allows those who test positive for antibodies through a serology test to obtain a Green Pass. The pass grants those vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to take part in various activities, which include eating indoors at restaurants, going to gyms and synagogues, and attending special events such as concerts.

Without vaccination or a record of having had the disease, individuals must prove that they are recovered COVID-19 patients, which can be achieved through a serology test administered in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.

Since the policy was announced, there has been an increase in demand for the test, especially among young people in Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, who are reluctant to get vaccinated, the report said.

Health providers have struggled to meet increased demand for the tests, and the Health Ministry also wishes to limit tests in order to encourage vaccination.

A Clalit vaccination center in Jerusalem, on February 25, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The ministry said Monday that 5,277,886 Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,861,451 have received both.

On Monday, cabinet ministers voted to extend the requirement that travelers get tested for COVID-19 before coming to Israel.

A cabinet statement said the rule will now be in force until May 4. The mandate requires travelers to undergo a coronavirus test within 72 hours of entering the country and another one at the border terminal upon arrival.

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