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Israel to vaccinate all athletes for Tokyo Games by May

Israel, however, currently leads the world on per capita vaccinations, having inoculated 29 percent of its population with at least one dose.

January 27, 2021 / 06:25 PM IST
Source: Reuters

Source: Reuters

Israel intends to have all its athletes due to compete at the Tokyo Olympics vaccinated against COVID-19 by May, its National Olympic Committee said on Wednesday, amid global debate over whether athletes should be given priority access in the rollout.

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries around the world struggle with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls.

Israel, however, currently leads the world on per capita vaccinations, having inoculated 29 percent of its population with at least one dose.

"As part of the Israel vaccination for corona procedure already 50 percent of all the Israel Olympic athletes delegation to Tokyo have been vaccinated," a Committee spokeswoman told Reuters in an email.

"By the end of May 2021, all... will be completely vaccinated against the coronavirus."

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, but organisers have vowed to press ahead with the Games, which are due to open on July 23 after being postponed for a year because of the pandemic.

Some countries are hesitant to prioritise athletes over those more in need of the vaccine.

A British Olympic Association representative told Reuters they have not spoken to their athletes about vaccinations and their priority remains "vulnerable, elderly and front line workers".

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said some athletes have resisted inoculation as many raised questions about their performances being affected as a result.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said that although participants will be encouraged to get vaccinated, it will not be mandatory.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has said that he was against the concept of compulsory vaccinations and did not like the idea of athletes taking priority ahead of vulnerable people or frontline workers.
Reuters
first published: Jan 27, 2021 06:15 pm

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