A Brazilian was the first infected with Covid-19 to be treated in Israel with the drug paxlovid, from Pfizer, against the new coronavirus.
Economist Simcha Neumark, 33, who was born in São Paulo and has lived in Jerusalem since 2013, was diagnosed with the disease on Friday (31). On Sunday (2), he was chosen to be the first to receive the medicine after looking for his health plan.
“Right after diagnosis, I had a very high fever, a lot of sore throat and terrible headaches. But within a few hours of taking the first pills, I already felt incredible improvement,” Neumark said.
“It was a miracle from God. I can’t explain how I feel better. About 15 hours later I had no fever and no sore throat. A completely different world. For me, it helped a lot,” he added.
The pioneering spirit gave Neumark, who is married and has three children, appearances on local TV and radio programs to report the experience.
The economist stated that he has Crohn’s Disease and that, according to him, the vaccines against Covid-19 did not result in the creation of antibodies. He said he had been vaccinated five times, three in Israel and twice in Brazil — he usually travels to the country for work.
Neumark said he was careful since the beginning of the pandemic not to contract the disease. But Israel is undergoing a fifth wave of Covid since the first case of the omicron variant was detected on December 1, 2020.
In a few weeks, the country went from near normality to around 10,000 cases a day. This number is expected to reach 20 thousand soon.
“I don’t know how I got it. I work in a home office and I practically don’t leave the house,” stated Neumark. “Last week, I attended a face-to-face meeting for the first time in a long time and, not knowing I had a ‘corona’ and still no symptoms, I infected four people.”
To stem the new wave, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is betting on vaccines, just as Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous government did a year ago.
This time, Bennett is betting on the fourth dose of the vaccine, approved for over 60s last week and now available for free.
On Tuesday (4), the prime minister announced that the first research on the fourth dose, carried out at the Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in the country, showed that it increased by five times the level of antibodies in people who were immunized with the third dose for more than four months.
Bennett has also been trying to motivate parents to vaccinate their children from 5 to 11 years old, but the campaign to vaccinate children only began to gain steam with the arrival of omicron and the adoption of new restrictions for non-vaccinated.
Currently, 72% of the population has taken at least one dose. In addition, 46% of people have already received the third dose, considered essential for a complete vaccination schedule and with the direct issuance of a “green pass” for entry into places such as cinemas, theaters, stores and restaurants.
Israel is one of the first countries in the world to administer paxlovid to people infected with the new coronavirus, after the Ministry of Health approved it, following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The medicine, which arrived in the country last Thursday (30), began to be distributed on Sunday only to people in the early stages of the disease and with comorbidities, to try to prevent them from being hospitalized.
According to medical authorities, the first shipment contained 20,000 packages at $350 a unit. Israel assured the arrival of 100,000 doses. So far, few patients have received the medicine, sent directly to their homes.
Paxlovid is a Pfizer drug for patients 12 years of age and older who are at an early stage of Covid. It was tested in 2,250 patients with mild or moderate coronavirus symptoms. Less than 1% of those taking the drug had to be hospitalized and there were no deaths in the 30-day study conducted by the drugmaker. In the group that received only a placebo, 6.5% of patients were hospitalized and nine died.
Treatment consists of taking three pills twice a day for five days. Two are from paxlovid and one is from a different antiviral drug.
Israel has also approved the drug against Covid by the American drugmaker Merck (in Brazil, MSD), molnupirvir, but has not yet received the first shipment of the drug.
Despite concerns about the high spread of omicron, experts have been optimistic about the consequences of the variant, which seem less serious.
In Israel, the number of hospitalizations and deaths does not closely match that of infections. In the past seven days, one person has died from the coronavirus. Fewer than 120 patients are hospitalized in serious condition across the country.
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