Israelis who have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine saw their risk of illness from the coronavirus drop 98.5% and their risk of hospitalization drop 98.9%, the country’s Health Ministry said Saturday.

The ministry’s findings came from data collected February 13 from a pool of about 1.7 million people who had received both shots by January 30, meaning their bodies had time to build up antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nearly half of Israel’s 9.3 million people have been inoculated, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that 95% of adults older than 50 should be vaccinated in the next two weeks.

Further, Netanyahu said that anyone who has had shots can receive a “green badge” that allows more freedom. Starting Sunday, some schools and retail stores will reopen to the public with limited crowd sizes after a two-month lockdown. But those with green badges can attend cultural or sporting events and fly abroad.

“The green badge is gradually opening up the country,” Netanyahu said.

African toll tops 100,000

On Friday, the coronavirus death toll on the African continent surpassed 100,000, as African countries struggle to obtain vaccines to counteract the pandemic.

South Africa accounts for nearly half of the confirmed deaths in Africa, with more than 48,000, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The country, which is facing its own variant of the virus, also accounts for nearly half the confirmed cases in the region, with more than 1.5 million. Total cases across the African continent are more than 3.8 million.

But one country, Tanzania, hasn’t reported any coronavirus information in months and hasn’t informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the measures it is taking against the pandemic.

“This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on WHO’s website.

Tanzanian authorities were not immediately available for comment. The country stopped reporting data in May 2020.

In Oman, 18% of Tanzanian travelers have tested positive for COVID-19, Oman’s health minister said, and a Tanzanian politician died Wednesday of the disease.

The 54-nation continent of about 1.3 billion people reached 100,000 deaths shortly after marking one year since the first coronavirus case was confirmed on the continent, in Egypt on February 14, 2020.

The actual death toll from the virus in Africa is believed to be higher than the official count as some who died were likely never included in confirmed tallies.

Globally, there were more than 111 million COVID-19 cases, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported late Saturday, and more than 2.4 million deaths. The U.S. has more cases than any other country with 28 million, followed by India with 10.9 million and Brazil with 10 million.

Source: Voice of America