Could Israel be heading towards herd immunity amid latest Omicron surge?

Israel Naftali Bennett

Israel IsraelLeading health adviser of Israel, Nachmann Ash has said that ongoing surge in Omicron cases in the country could be a catalyst in Israel reaching herd immunity. But he warned of the risk associated with it – at least four million Israelis getting infected with the coronavirus infection by January end. He added that ideally and favorably the herd immunity must be instead achieved through vaccinations.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that fourth Covid-19 vaccine would be rolled out for people over age of 60 years and medical staff. He, however, admitted that current policy framework might not be sufficient in preventing big surge in infection cases. Prime Minister Bennett has stressed that aim of fourth vaccine dose is to prevent big spike in serious illness due to virus while keeping economy open. But a future lockdown depends on the situation and is not ruled out.

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What is Herd Immunity?

Herd immunity can be described as a stage in population’s immunity wherein it is protected from the disease either through a large part of population having received vaccination or if people have developed antibodies against infection by having contracted the infection.

Prof. Ash said, “The price of herd immunity is very many infections, and that may end up happening. The numbers need to be high to reach herd immunity, it’s something that is possible.” He added, “But we don’t want to reach it by means of infections, we want it to happen as a result of many people vaccinating.”

There is no guarantee of achieving her immunity, however, said Salman Zarka, head of the health ministry’s coronavirus taskforce. “We have to be very cautious with this particularly in light of our experience over the past two years in which we saw people who have recovered be re-infected,” Mr Zarka said while talking to the Ynet news website.

Eran Segal, a government adviser from the Weizmann Institute has warned that the infections might soon see a massive spike, exceeding the testing capacity of Israel. This can be a challenging stage as the country would be unable to identify new infections in time. He has stressed that getting vaccinated is the only solution. “Everyone who walks around, no matter where, will be exposed and should be protected,” he tweeted.

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