תמונת משה בר סימן טוב
Moshe Bar Siman Tov
Photo: Orel Cohen
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds a sign to imply Israel's fourth vaccine campaign

Israel shall not surrender and accept outcome of Omicron wave

Opinion: After stocking up on enough vaccines for entire population, government seems to believe its role in pandemic fight is over; however, other necessary steps to minimize potential damage must be made to avoid lethal end-result

Moshe Bar Siman Tov |
Published: 01.05.22, 23:38
The current wave of the Omicron variant of coronavirus is spreading worldwide and its arrival in Israel was inevitable. However, the government did good by taking early measures to delay the wave's onset for as long as possible. Israel had stocked up on additional vaccines and prepared the health system for what's coming.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • I also believe the government's choice to remove the lockdown option from the table at the onset of the fifth wave was a good idea. In Israel's current situation, in which we have vaccines available for the entire population, and after we've accumulated enough knowledge about on how this pandemic affects us, we must continue to do every possible effort to avoid lockdowns.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    איור נפתלי בנט מאבק קורונה אומיקרון
    איור נפתלי בנט מאבק קורונה אומיקרון
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds a sign to imply Israel's fourth vaccine campaign
    (Drawing: Guy Morad)
    But avoiding a lockdown doesn't mean Israel must move towards the current wave by adopting the "mass infection model". There are still many other steps that can be taken in order to mitigate the morbidity and save lives.
    Despite public's fatigue, there is a health, social and economic value in minimizing the Omicron's damage to the Israeli population. It is possible to make sure that fewer people are getting infected, while also reducing the rate of hospitalizations, which is expected to peak in tandem with usual seasonal ailments.
    Coronavirus-related fatigue cannot be used as an excuse to neglect human life or to be overly optimistic about the nature of the morbidity when we don't know all the facts. Despite the announcements about how this is the "easiest" of all COVID waves, the price of error in judgement could be very costly.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    A man receives his fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine in a private nursing home in Petah Tikva
    A man receives his fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine in a private nursing home in Petah Tikva
    A man receives his fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine in a private nursing home in Petah Tikva
    (Photo: AP)
    The common sentiment these days is that people can get vaccinated and protect themselves, and as a result, because there are enough vaccines for the entire population, the government's role in the crisis is over.
    But that's only partially true, because the government cannot adopt the "every man for himself" policy during a pandemic. If there will be a mass surge in cases, as expected, everyone will be affected - vaccinated or unvaccinated, young or old.
    The overload of COVID patients in hospitals will affect others, for instance oncology patients, and will result in a cancellation of surgical activity scheduled months prior. No less important is that the infection wave will also affect the already overburdened medical teams that have been at the forefront of this pandemic for almost two years.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    תורים לבדיקת בהיכל מנורה בתל אביב
    תורים לבדיקת בהיכל מנורה בתל אביב
    Israelis line up to get a COVID test in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    There are quite a few steps that can be taken to mitigate the infection spread, even if it won't stop it completely. You can't say that limiting mass gatherings won't reduce infection, and the same goes for learning in smaller groups, while maintaining in-person learning (as opposed to distance learning, which appears to be this government's preferred option).
    Tougher health measures will of course require compensating the industries and businesses affected by them. But it must be done in order to help the public follow the rules. It's a fundamental part of Israel's relationship with its population.
    Israel should also assist the tourism sector, which was damaged severely when travel restrictions were applied, and it will continue to suffer even after they will be removed.
    And we can't forget the damage that has been done to the health system and the unbearable burden hospitals are suffering from, in addition harm being done to human life and a huge economic price.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מחלקת קורונה בבילינסון
    מחלקת קורונה בבילינסון
    COVID ward at Rabin Medical Center
    (Photo: Rabin Medical Center)
    It is important to emphasize the outcome of the Omicron wave depends on all of us, both as a country and as individuals, since the actions of every single one of us will eventually determine how this wave ends.
    A devastating outcome is not predetermined, and while the government is on the verge of starting to quote Winston Churchill, when he said "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat," we must not forget the war-time British prime minster also once said: "We shall never surrender".
    There is no reason to give up and accept the end-result of the current Omicron wave, but right now it seems that the government isn't making any effort to minimize the potential damage.

    Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov is a former director-general at the Health Ministry and a guest researcher for the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University

    Talkbacks for this article 0