The Israel national sera bank: Methods, representativeness, and challenges

Ravit Bassal, Dani Cohen, Manfred S. Green, Lital Keinan-Boker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Israel National Sera Bank (INSB) was established in 1997 in the Israel Center for Disease Control. The purpose of the INSB was to provide policymakers with data on the immunity status of the Israeli population against vaccine-preventable diseases, and on the extent and characteristics of exposure to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The aim of this paper is to describe the methods, representativeness, and challenges in maintaining the INSB. The INSB comprises residual sera collected in six laboratories. By the end of 2019, 138,898 samples had been deposited in the INSB. These include samples from four community laboratories: 30.7% from the National Blood Service, 22.2% from Haifa and the Western Galilee, 21.7% from Soroka, and 0.7% from Jerusalem; and from two medical center laboratories: 18.6% from Schneider and 6.1% from Mayanei Hayeshua. The demographic characteristics of the sample at the end of 2019 closely resembled those of the general population. The main challenges addressed in maintaining the INSB relate to its representativeness, the possibility of repeated donors, costs, stability of antibody levels after long-term storage, ethical aspects, and the data available for each sample. The INSB is a unique, powerful, and necessary tool for assessing population immunity levels, based on serum samples collected over a long period of time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2280
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors.


  • Challenges
  • Immunity
  • Israel
  • Methodology
  • Serum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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