According to the prediction made by experts from Hebrew University, it is possible that the Omicron variant may infect millions more before the wave actually subsides. Already, the highly contagious variant has infected millions of people and is now reaching its peak in Israel. If official tests are to be considered, the new variant has already resulted in infection in 1.5 million people since it came into the country in late November. This is about one-sixth of Israel’s total population. The Hebrew University team has been forecasting COVID-19 statistics throughout the pandemic and now they have predicted that as many as 2.5 million people could be infected in the next two weeks on the back end of the fifth wave.
A member of the interdisciplinary stats team and infectious diseases specialist, Prof. Ran Nir-Paz said that infections were slowing down, but Israel remained very close to the peak and this meant that a massive number of people would be infected as they move downhill from it. He went on to say that they were following the same trajectory that was seen in the United Kingdom. He highlighted that the decline in cases in the UK had been a lot slower, as compared to the acceleration, which indicates that there would continue to be numerous cases. He said that while there was hope for a faster decline in cases in Israel, but the UK had shown that this was highly unlikely.
This new modeling had been disclosed on Tuesday and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that Israel had reached the height of the battle against Omicron, but added that they still had some difficult 10 to 14 days ahead of them. Nir-Paz stressed that all of the predictions of his team are related to confirmed infections and that they believe that infections are about 30% to 100% higher than those that have been diagnosed by the test centers of the government. This modeling is in accordance with what other experts have said about the actual spread of the virus.
The Hebrew University team doesn’t just predict infection patterns but also estimates the number of patients who are seriously ill during the Omicron wave. They said that this number was 30% lower than expectations because of the fourth vaccine dose that had been distributed to those over the age of 60 and at high risk. The average daily infections for the last seven days has also declined to 64,349 from 71,695. But, Nir-Paz suggested that this drop could also be because of the winter storm that had occurred in recent days and had kept positive people at home.
He also noted that it would take longer for the number of serious cases to go down because it takes a couple of days after infection for the case to turn serious. He said that the fact that Israel had passed the peak was indeed good news, but it is not excellent news because they still have to deal with the descent and this can be quite tricky. He added that while people could relax, they still had to be cautious.