Israel’s Response to Omicron Smacks of Panic3 min read
According to an influential immunologist, the government of Israel has unleashed a ‘panic room’ unnecessarily against the Omicron strain of the coronavirus. He said that their decision of approving the fourth shot for some of the Israeli citizens is ‘totally unacceptable. The government has approved the shot for those who are most vulnerable, medical workers or the elderly. Prof. Zvika Granot from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem spoke a day after the government gave its approval for the COVID shots. He said that they shouldn’t be doing this without doing proper research into the impact of the dose.
The professor also argued that the government was making a mistake by administering regular vaccines as the fourth dose, rather than waiting for shots that are updated and more variant-proof. Pfizer and the other companies manufacturing vaccines have pushed for developing a new version. Granot said that when Pfizer could update the vaccine for the new variants, there wasn’t any point in giving a vaccine that is relevant to an old variant. He said that the coronavirus had changed and the vaccine was no longer as efficient, so they needed an updated vaccine. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the decision for distributing the fourth shot of the vaccine was ‘wonderful’ news because it will help them in fighting the Omicron wave that’s spreading globally.
The Pandemic Treatment Staff is the government body that has formed the panel of health experts, 86% of whom backed the idea of administering the fourth dose of the vaccine. The premier declared that Israel had been the first country to give the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to its people and they would continue to be the leader with the fourth dose as well. The number of new cases in Israel continues to rise on a daily basis, but this is only partly and not completely due to Omicron.
According to the data released by the Health Ministry, this number had reached 1,400 on Wednesday, but the number of patients in the hospital remained low and there were only 83 patients who were in serious condition. Sheba Medical Center’s head of infectious diseases, Prof. Galia Rahav, is also a member of the panel that gave its approval for the fourth shot of the vaccine. She said that the decision hadn’t been ‘simple’ considering the data had shown that the protection of the third dose was already waning.
Talking about Omicron, she said that what was happening in the rest of the world was truly frightening. There are other experts who have also approved the fourth shot. Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Jonathan Gerhsoni, who is an immunologist, had spoken out when the third dose had been rolled out. He had said that he couldn’t see the urgency, but it was a wise move and it had eventually been proven right. In his opinion, the same applies to the fourth dose, which means waiting for the vaccines to be updated is not a wise move. He said that they could be beneficial and not do any harm.