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COVID drive-thru testing siteצילום: יונתן זינדל, פלאש 90

Some two million Israelis have already been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, an Israeli researcher estimates, even as the number of new infections per day continues to rise.

Prof. Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute of Science spoke with Yedioth Aharanoth Tuesday, saying that the spread of the Omicron variant appears to be following predictions made less than a month ago.

Segal added that the current wave would likely peak in the next few days, then begin to decline.

“About three weeks ago, we predicted that the rise [in infections] would continue for three weeks, after which there would be a decline. That is what’s happening now, just as predicted.”

Israel now has the highest test positivity rate in the world, Segal said, though the pattern of Omicron’s spread is the same as in other countries, where the winter wave has already peaked.

“As far as daily infections go, we are second place worldwide, with 10% of tests coming back positive, just below Ireland.”

“We’ve diagnosed more than 500,000 people during the Omicron wave, which is the same number we diagnosed during the Delta wave. Since the number of people who are actually infected is about three to four-fold larger, in my estimate, from the number of diagnosed cases, I estimate that thus far 1.5 million to two million Israelis have been infected with Omicron.”

“That should bring us to an infection coefficient of 1.0 and start to bring down the number of infections. All of the numbers point to us very soon reaching the peak, in the next few days, and then we’ll see a decline.”