Israel on August 22, 2021, launched antibody testing for children between 3 years to 12 years old. The Israeli government has decided to alleviate any developmental and educational setbacks amid the coronavirus pandemic despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant.

The antibody testing has been termed as the ‘largest serological operation’ by the Israeli government and has been launched during a time when students are preparing to return to schools for a new academic year.

The government has requested all parents to bring their children to avail the free test as quickly as possible to ensure successful implementation of the new academic years and classroom schedules. Israel has been vaccinating children aged 12 and above.

Israel’s COVID-19 antibody testing in children

Aim

•The antibody testing has been devised to seek information on the number of unvaccinated children between ages 3 to 12 years old who have developed immunity or antibody protection against COVID-19 after having a latent or unrecorded case.

•There are approximately 1.5 million children in this age bracket in Israel who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Procedure

•The antibody testing in children in Israel will be conducted by a 15-minute finger pin-prick method for free.

•The Health and Education Ministries and the Army’s Home Front command have collaborated to conduct the testing.

Results

•If a child is tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, he or she will be allowed to go to school safely. Bring tested positive for coronavirus antibodies means the child has developed immunity or antibody protection against COVID-19.

Why did Israel launch COVID-19 antibody testing in children?

•In July 2021, Yigal Slovik, Director, Education Ministry said that last year’s closures caused ‘emotional and social damage’ to students.

•The lockdowns and remote learning have induced a 44 per cent rise in referrals for suicidal risk diagnosis, Slovik added.

COVID-19 Tracker: Israel

•Israel as of August 24, 2021, has reported approximately 9.99 lakh total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,856 deaths.

•As of August 23, 2021, over 5.4 million out of 9.3 million people in Israel have been completely vaccinated. This constitutes constituting 60 per cent of the total population.

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