The Israel Defense Forces is the first military in the world to have achieved herd immunity against the COVID-19 virus, a top IDF official said on Thursday.

According to Maj. Gen. Itzik Turgeman, head of the IDF’s Technology and Logistics Directorate, 85 percent of the military will have been vaccinated against the disease by the end of next week. Just 10 weeks after the launch of the IDF’s immunization campaign, 81 percent of service members have already either been vaccinated or are recovering from the disease, while overall morbidity continues to decline, the military said in a statement.

These “impressive” figures will have a significant impact on the IDF’s daily routine, said Turgeman and IDF Chief Medical Officer Brig. Gen. Alon Glazberg.

“It allows us to go back to training with greater freedom, to authorize gatherings and for ‘green units’ to get back to a reality a bit more,” they said, according to the statement.

The vaccination campaign was logistically complex, due to the restrictions on the transport of the vaccine packets, noted Glazberg. Unlike some other COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine used in Israel must be kept stored at ultra-cold temperatures. Because of this, a unique transport system had to be devised, said Glazberg.

The two senior officers stressed, however, that it was not yet time to doff masks.

“It is clear to us, of course, even as the IDF approaches the end of the operation, [that] the coronavirus is still with us, and we will continue to maintain the guidelines with regard to social distancing, wearing masks and public-transportation adjustments,” they said.

Preparations are already underway to vaccinate the next wave of recruits.


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