The concerns about a new wave of COVID-19 in Israel are subsiding, as the transmission rate is once more below 1 and new case numbers are also shrinking after a bump. This is undoubtedly good news and also points to the power of the people in Israel who used common sense to respond to the virus. After the intense Omicron wave in Israel, which had reached a peak in late January, the number of cases had declined for a while. However, they had begun to rise once more in mid-March, pointing to a sixth wave. According to experts, the BA.2 variant, which is a sub-variant of Omicron, and considered highly transmissible was partly responsible for it.
Other factors included rolling back of coronavirus restrictions, along with biological factors that are not clearly understood. The statistics were definitely a big concern. But, the transmission rate declined to 0.98 on Sunday, which was its first decline in about two weeks. The statistics released on Wednesday show that the transmission rate is now 0.89. This figure is important because it is used for gauging the spread of the disease, with a number under 1 showing it is abating and over 1 indicates it is accelerating.
This rate is calculated using the data of 10 days, which shows that there was already a decline in transmission. There has also been a fall in the number of new cases diagnosed daily. The recent peak in cases hit on March 30th when the average number of cases diagnosed was 13,381. Now, the moving average has declined to 10,952. This could be because a massive number of people had been infected by the Omicron variant, which meant that they had immunity already. Hence, the virus had very limited targets for now, as recovered people have high protection for now.
But, there is also a behavioral explanation. A top member of a Hebrew University team that models and monitors statistics related to the coronavirus, Prof. Nadav Katz said that people responded to the news of rising numbers. He said that they were acting more carefully, wearing masks and looking out for the elderly, which means there is a behavioral explanation for the decline as well. He noted that the spike in cases had subsided, even though no new rules were imposed and not long after regulations had been softened. He asserted that behavioral factors can prove to be quite powerful, just the same as rules, if not more.
He said that instructing people to be careful, you may have success, but real effectiveness can be seen when people are motivated because of the reality. Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, the leading epidemiologist, was in agreement. He said that high immunity levels did mean limited cases, but ‘common sense’ of the people had played a more important role. The head of the doctors’ union in Israel and an academic at the Ben Gurion University, Davidovitch said that people respond without waiting for rules and they use their common sense because COVID-19 is becoming normalized and people have accepted that they will have to live with it.