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Is Omicron destined to usher in Israel’s 5th outbreak, or will it ‘downgrade’ COVID?

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Is this the calm before an intense Omicron-induced storm? Or is Israel on course to carry on enjoying low COVID levels, at least for now?

Government adviser Prof. Eran Segal thinks that there is a “significant” chance that Omicron is likely to become dominant and sweep Israel toward its fifth wave of infections.

“There is significant possibility that we will see a fifth wave due to Omicron, given what we’re learning about the variant,” the Weizmann Institute of Science computational biologist told The Times of Israel. “It could take several weeks, but there’s a significant chance it will happen.”

A vastly different assessment comes from the quiet virus wards of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, where the head of COVID-19 care, Prof. Dror Mevorach, thinks the current low number of patients could well continue. He is, in fact, hopeful that Omicron could “downgrade the severity of coronavirus illness.”

Both experts are eagerly consuming all the same Omicron news as it emerges, such as information on the unusually high number of mutations that may allow the variant to dodge vaccines. Omicron has been detected in 38 countries, but no deaths from it have yet been reported, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

For Segal, the absence of deaths, the fact that only a few cases have so far been detected in Israel, and the quiet wards are all meaningless in terms of assessing Omicron’s risk.

It takes time for cases to........

© The Times of Israel

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