Israel Joins Japan And China In Preparing For The Next SARS-CoV-2 Strain That Will Debut Soon As Delta Wanes In Some Countries. A Reassortant Strain Is Expected!
Despite an aggressive vaccination and a booster shot programme, Israel is witnessing a small surge in COVID-19 cases again as the R number ie the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to is again nearing one. However, healthcare facilities and the country are enjoying a respite as the ravages of the fourth wave which hit the country in July is sort of contained and the current surge is still relatively small and under control.
However, Israel is joining countries like Japan and China in preparations for what they call a doomsday SARS-CoV-2 strain or Omega strain that is totally immune evasive and more transmissible making its debut sometime within the next 6 weeks to 6 months.
While in the West, the governments in countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom are trying to mislead its gullible citizens into thinking that the vaccination programmes, boosters shots and new antivirals meds will end the COVID-19 crisis sometime next year and will make it what they are terming as endemic, the truth is far from it.
Even we at Thailand Medical News
had misread the whole COVID-19 pandemic and made a couple of wrong predictions. The reality is that we are only still at the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst has yet to come!
Israel like Japan and China is making preparations for the next stage.
Last week, Israel held a national exercise code-named Omega to examine how to cope with a fifth wave that would be caused, hypothetically, by the arrival of a new variant that was immune to vaccination.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took the possibility seriously and spent eight hours straight in the national management center. The exercise was planned by the special methods branch of the Defense Ministry, and it was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Ayash, formerly head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate.
Interestingly the method of the simulation recalled a military exercise, which takes the scenario to the extreme to examine the true capability of the system to arrive at and implement decisions.
It was reported that the fifth wave that was posited in the exercise was a doomsday affair: the penetration of a vaccine-immune variant that strikes hard at children and causes large-scale death among children and teenagers. In the past year, and more decisively under the Bennett government, Israeli strategy has relied on vaccination as the chief response to the virus. Here, then, the carpet was pulled from under the feet of the decision-makers and they were compelled to look for other solutions.
It was noted that one method that is meant to improve the situation is the purchase of a large quantity of medications against COVID-19, which are now in the final stages of approval in the United States. Prior acquisition of such medications, on the assumption that they will prove effective against the next variant, too, could reduce deaths and perhaps allow the continued partial opening of the economy.
In Israel, the economic damage from one week of closure is estimated at between 2 billion and 4 billion shekels ($650 million-$1.3 billion). No medicines or vaccinations will be anywhere near as costly.
The Israel Prime Minister leans t
o hermetically closing Ben-Gurion airport to non-Israelis in the event a new variant appears, and to conducting stringent control and quarantine of returning Israelis.
The simulated exercise turned up other points of weakness: the difficulty of the civilian system to move from routine into emergency mode, the feeble ability of the public information system and holes in the coordination between government ministries. (The National Security Council, on which the Netanyahu government pinned its hopes, is not up to the task.)
Importantly one of Israel’s problems again, contrary to the boasts of the former prime minister is the absence of an orderly mechanism capable of tracking and analyzing the spread of the virus abroad. Thus, the Foreign Ministry is barely mobilized in the national effort, even though it has representatives in almost every country.
Also, Israel systematically collect the information about the movement of those who enter its gates. The only report for each returning citizen is about the airport he arrived from, without any mention of the countries he visited.
America solved that problem after the September 11 attacks, but Israel is lagging in this regard. This is a critical point in the spread of a new variant, because the virus-stricken are liable to pass through sensitive countries without the Health Ministry being aware of this and thus supervising their return.
Israel’s intelligence agencies are also reported to be collating genomic data and studies regarding many SARS-CoV-2 emerging variants in countries that are not sharing the data with others.
Like Japan and China, Israel is also stockpiling food and medical supplies and also extending the program of building more hospitals with more ICU units. Medical devices, ventilators and various medical equipment are being stockpiled. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/despite-a-low-infection-rate-and-outbreaks-in-control,-japan-is-preparing-for-a-catastrophic-covid-19-surge-what-do-they-know-that-we-don-t
In reality, it is not just Israel, Japan and China are preparing for a worse 2022, it has been said that countries like Norway, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and a few other countries are also doing the same.
Many experts are speculating that the next doomsday SARS-CoV-2 strain will likely be a reassortant strain involving the recombination of genetic material from two or more different species of viruses, one of which is the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus and another either a human or zoonotic strain.
In fact, a more realistic scenario is likely of two different SARS-CoV-2 variants recombining together with a different virus, most likely an alphacoronavirus from animals that are currently being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus by humans.
There are already reports that some of these unique strains have already emerged in the last few months but they just do not have the right viral fitness yet to make them more transmissible and its only a matter of time.
It is also speculated that the next doomsday SARS-CoV-2 strain will likely emerge in countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines or in any of the African or the South American countries.
For more on the anticipated Omega 2022 strain
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