Israel closes in Omicron with the vaccine: reportage in the country among the most immunized in the world

Tel Aviv. The move is defensive: Israel has chosen immediacy, closing the borders to tourism and to Omicron, the variant. Two weeks to study how effective the danger is, pending scientific data. “We are very worried”, are the words of the “czar of Covid”: Professor Salman Zarka has earned the nickname since he is head of the Covid team of the ministry of health. “Get vaccinated” is the appeal to the smallest part of the population not yet immunized, because the booster dose saved the country from the fourth wave, he explains. The political confrontation is about restrictions, even in Israel some people are against it, someone refuses the third dose, their green pass is revoked. The line, explains Zarka, would not be that of the obligation or even of the lockdown for the unvaccinated, but it will depend on the gravity of the situation.

“Against Omicron the only answer is the vaccine”

Immunologist Cyrill Cohen, on the government pandemic management committee, from his laboratory on the campus of Bar-llan University, says he has seen nothing like this before: an unprecedented mutation. Waiting for scientific findings, he hypothesizes the scenarios: everything remains almost unchanged, the virus controlled by the vaccine, spacing, masks; omicron turns out to be much weaker than delta and after a slight peak in infections it disappears as happened with other variants; or the worst projection, also considered less likely: the disease spreads like a great wave. At the Sheba hospital, a huge polyclinic on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, two doctors became infected: it is Omicron, confirms Arnon Afek, one of the general directors, he is convinced that it happened during a conference in London: cardiologists from all over the world participated .

“Vaccinate children: there is nothing to fear”

The only defense is the vaccine, this is the common vision in the country that first experienced it en masse, where even a 12-year-old child who learned English on YouTube before inoculation asks to express his thoughts: “The virus does a lot more afraid of the vaccine, I want to feel safe “. For the little ones, small centers have been organized, they are welcomed between games. The campaign for children aged 5 to 11 has started, the response grows with the hours, it is better than the adolescent range. The Schneider hospital is the largest in the Middle East, a reference point for paediatrics, Dr. Omer Niv, Deputy Director, reassures parents: there is nothing to fear, US data confirm this. In recent weeks the virus has been circulating in schools, the danger is for adults. Nothing is felt in Tel Aviv, in the bustling market you can dance, in the lively bars, in the vibrant night. If the airport is semi-closed, Tel Aviv is open, in its vanguard, in the habit of conflict, attack and defense, but this time it is different, the enemy is the same for everyone: a virus always on the run.