Since the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, various genetic variants have been described. The B.1.1.7 variant, which emerged in England during December 2020, is associated with increased infectivity. Therefore, its pattern of spread is of great importance. The Israeli government established three national programs: massive RT-PCR testing, focused surveillance in nursing homes, and robust prioritized vaccination with BNT162b2. To define the impact of the aforementioned programs, we analyze data from ∼300,000 RT-PCR samples collected from December 6, 2020, to February 10, 2021. We reveal that the B.1.1.7 is 45% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 20%–60%) more transmissible than the wild-type strain and has become the dominant strain in Israel within 3.5 weeks. Despite the rapid increase in viral spread, focused RT-PCR testing and prioritized vaccination programs are capable of preventing the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant in the elderly. Therefore, proactive surveillance programs, combined with prioritized vaccination, are achievable and can reduce severe illness and subsequent death.
- viral infection
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)