Opinion: The assumption that the new coronavirus variant is less menacing than previous COVID strains is a dangerous one, especially considering new studies, which claim it is the cause for the recent infection spike overseas

Over the past month, many across the country have come to believe that the Omicron fiasco is well and truly over.

We can, of course, only hope that this is true, that the scientific community’s worst fears regarding this new variant do not come to pass, and that the preliminary data we have – which showed that the Omicron is less violent than previous strains – is accurate.

 נגיף קורונה אומיקרון נשיא סין שי ג'ינפינג
Render of the Omicron strain (Photo: Shutterstock)


What we must not do, however, is spread potentially dangerous lies.

The facts are unequivocal: the Omicron has breached the borders of South Africa, where it led to a jump in hospitalizations, and also in mortality – though not at the same rate as we have seen during other waves of infection.

The Omicron is rapidly spreading in places like Britain – where authorities believe the number of Omicron cases could reach no less than a million each month if the variant continues to spread unabated – and Denmark, where authorities believe the Omicron could outpace the Delta variant in mere weeks.

Another important fact is that in Britain, about 90% of the population has some level of immunization against COVID – be it from inoculation or prior infection – and the same goes for South Africa.

In both places, the Omicron has caused a significant spike in infections.

(Photo: Reuters)


These numbers serve to give credence to early studies of the Omicron, which claimed that the variant can indeed breach the defenses developed by those who were inoculated or otherwise recovered from the pathogen.

One thing to note is that these same studies added that the number of hospitalizations is lower than in previous COVID waves, attributed mainly to the larger number of vaccinations during the Omicron pandemic.

A British study, for example, found that those who received the booster are 75% less likely to develop symptoms in case of infection – though it is important to remember that there were studies that showed that the booster’s effectiveness seemed to diminish over time.

מחלקת קורונה בבית החולים ברזילי באשקלון
Barzilai Hospital’s dedicated COVID ward (Photo: AP)


And while the drop in hospitalizations is good news, the apparent Omicron-induced spike in infection rate – which seems to be 3 times higher among family members compared to previous strains – could herald trouble for health care systems around the world, which are already heavily encumbered due to the Delta variant.

In America, for example, coronavirus was the main cause of mortality among those aged 35-54 in September.

Those who remain aloof to these numbers are those who have been so utterly affected by the poisonous lies spread in social media.

קורונה זן חדש אומיקרון בדיקה גרמניה
The New York Times shortly after the discovery of the Omicron (Photo: Reuters)


The coronavirus is deceptive because of its large-scale effect on the population as a whole, compared to its minimal effect on the individual.

So what’s there to do?

First, we, as a people, must stop burying our heads in the sand – while our politicians must stop spewing slogans meant to reassure the public, and instead act as quickly as possible.

Every delay and drop in infections would serve the public, help the education system keep going, and aid the economy develop and remaining open.

נוסעים בנתב"ג
Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Reuters)


No one, thus far, suggested imposing another general lockdown, as there are several measures to take beforehand.

If the infection spike abroad keeps climbing, the natural thing to do will be to expand the isolation mandate for those returning from abroad, coupled with expanding the country’s “red state” list, which effectively bans travel to countries where COVID is raging.

The government can also decide to finally hand out N95 masks to senior citizens for maximum protection, an initiative previously approved by the government but never implemented or executed.

When signs of a heavy price start cropping up, extreme, short-term caution is advised. It is better to be cautious now than be sorry later.

As reported by Ynetnews