Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test iStock

Ran Balicer, head of the panel of experts which advise the Cabinet on coronavirus matters, Founding Director of the Clalit Research Institute, and Chief Innovation Officer at Clalit Health Services, on Monday morning said he does not see the coronavirus pandemic ending any time soon.

In an interview with Kol Hai Radio, Prof. Balicer said he had also contracted coronavirus, explaining, "I had it relatively mild, but the illness is not pleasant. There are a few days where you really feel sick."

When asked for his opinion on whether the Green Pass should be canceled, he said, "We need to remember why the Green Pass was made in the first place. The goal was to create places which were safe from infection, for those who choose not to be infected or who are high risk. This goal was achieved very well when we were faced with the Delta and Alpha strains, with the first doses of the vaccine."

"In today's situation, with Omicron - the protection that those vaccinated acquire - there is no ability to prevent infection, and therefore places which operate according to the Green Pass are no longer safe. With Omicron the vaccine protects mostly against severe illness, while with Delta it protected against infection as well. Since the areas which operate according to the Green Pass are no longer protected from infection, and since the main strain threatening us is Omicron and not Delta - there is no reason to have the Green Pass."

"Until now, we kept it in order to protect from Delta, which continued to spread parallel to Omicron, initially. The Green Pass was very efficient in controlling the spread of Delta."

When asked if the end of the pandemic is in sight, he said, "The characteristics of this pandemic are that once every six to eight months there is a new strain and it restarts the discussion on what the characteristics of the illness are and what the means of managing it are. I do not expect that this will end any time in the near future, because hundreds of millions of people around the world are becoming infected, and there are opportunities to create new strains."

Regarding the differences between each of the virus' strains, Prof. Balicer said, "From Alpha to Delta it became stronger, from Delta to Omicron it did become a bit less but only with regards to virulence - it became stronger with regards to how infectious it is. We hope that we will not see a strain that is as virulent as Delta and as infectious as Omicron."

"With both the vaccine and recovery, the protection wanes with time, and we see now many people who were previously infected contracting Omicron. At the same time, there is no doubt that previous exposure provides more protection."

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