Herd Immunity is Talk of the Day in Israel

The idea of letting Israelis catch COVID-19 and build up antibodies is now gaining steam amid an Omicron outbreak

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Coronavirus
Healthcare workers take samples at a drive-through COVID testing station in Jerusalem.  Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The highly-contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 has made outbreaks of infection difficult, if not impossible to prevent. A number of experts say it simply can’t be done, even with lockdowns and harsh travel restrictions. At the same time, the Omicron variant is weaker than is predecessors, leading a growing number of officials to say that perhaps the time has come to pursue herd immunity.

See: Health Officials: End Flight Bans, Let Israelis Catch COVID

Earlier this week, Channel 12 News cited unnamed sources in the Ministry of Health as saying they were considering switching Israel to a “mass infection model.”

A number of developments have now made this a viable, and perhaps the only realistic option available to the Jewish state.

  • Vaccination rates in Israel have slowed considerably, with many wary of repeated booster shots, and unwilling to vaccinate their young children with an untested treatment;
  • The current government is unwilling to impose a lockdown on the economy, and is trying hard to keep schools open. It is unlikely to switch course in this regard after so heavily criticizing the previous government for its repeated lockdowns;
  • While the rate of new daily infections is spiking due to Omicron, there has not been a corresponding rise in hospitalizations. This has led officials to conclude that Omicron results in milder illness, and does not warrant the same level of concern as Delta and earlier variants.

So, if Israel’s vaccination rate is not going to rise significantly and the government is unwilling to impose a nationwide quarantine, then there’s simply no way to stop Omicron from running rampant. And if, as the evidence seems to show, it’s not that deadly anyway, perhaps it’s best to not even try.

In fact, over the past week a flu outbreak has been a far more concerning healthcare crisis than COVID-19. There are currently over 2,000 Israelis hospitalized with serious cases of Influenza A, including many children. There are just 88 patients suffering from COVID-19 in local hospitals.

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