The lines at Ben Gurion airport
The lines at Ben Gurion airportAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Health Ministry Director General Professor Nachman Ash on Wednesday morning spoke at a conference of pediatricians, noting that after Israel vaccinates school-age children, the next challenge facing the country is that of identifying variants and ensuring that Israel does not lose the gains it has made by succumbing to a vaccine-resistant strain of the virus.

"The next challenge is that of identifying a dangerous variant somewhere in the world - either that is vaccine-resistant or that causes more severe illness," Prof. Ash said, according to Israel Hayom. "When we identify one like this, and that's also not simple at an early stage, we need to see what kinds of protection we can create."

He added: "Here there are dilemmas regarding closing Ben Gurion International Airport - whether to certain countries or in general."

Regarding the Health Ministry's recent decision to allow those returning from abroad to undergo a rapid test within 24 hours of takeoff, instead of a regular PCR within 72 hours, Prof. Ash said, "We're not compromising on the test. We always said that an antigen test within 24 hours is equal in value to a PCR test within 24 hours. It's hard to find PCR testing abroad and it's very expensive. I think this is a very intelligent decision, and that it makes things easier."

According to Israel Hayom, hundreds of thousands of pediatric COVID-19 doses are expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday evening, and the rollout is expected to begin next week.