After detecting the Omicron variant of COVID almost two years into the global pandemic, many countries have once again shut down their borders to prevent its spread worldwide. But one Israeli immunologist believes that the newly detected Omicron variant of COVID actually suggests that the global pandemic is coming to an end.
"In my view maybe this new variant is the light at the end of the tunnel," Zvika Granot of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Israeli international media network i24 News on Tuesday. He added, "This is a variant that is highly infectious but maybe not as aggressive."
Granot remarked that pandemics such as the one caused by COVID do not normally end because of an effective vaccine. Instead, the human race will achieve "herd immunity" once the virus eventually mutates to become highly transmissible yet less aggressive. Despite being a variant of concern, the Omicron variant has shown, through detections in South Africa, that "herd immunity" is closer than most people think.
Granot explained that the end of the pandemic is not "because we got a fantastic vaccine," arguing that "it just doesn't work this way," pointing to viruses like the flu. Instead, the Israeli immunologist said that "The way that it will end, at least in my view, is when we encounter this new variant that is highly infectious but is not very aggressive, meaning that a lot of people will get infected but none of them will develop serious symptoms."
For Granot, that is the way the human race will gain "herd immunity" and case COVID to simply "fade away."
According to The Blaze, the detection of the Omicron variant of COVID in several countries across the globe caused mass hysteria last week, as governments began shutting down borders and scientists began issuing public health warnings. COVID vaccine manufacturers also chimed in to ensure the public that they are already on it.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it has "drastically increased its ability to test" COVID samples for the Omicron variant, NBC News reported. The CDC said it is now sequencing about 1 out of every 7 COVID-positive PCR tests, resulting in about 80,000 tests per week, which CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said is "more than any other country."
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that as of Tuesday afternoon, there were 226 cases of the Omicron variant across 20 countries, including Canada. He warned that the Omicron variant "might already be here, certainly not in large amounts, but it may already be here."
Dr. Walensky, however, expressed confidence in dealing with COVID's Omicron variant, telling the Washington Post that "To be crystal clear - we have far more tools to fight the variant than we had at this time last year."
The CDC director added that they have expanded its surveillance to the four busiest airports in the country, John F. Kennedy, San Francisco, Newark and Atlanta airports "for increased testing for specific international arrivals." The agency will also ramp up pre-arrival and post-arrival testing and evaluate other travel measures in response to the Omicron threat.
It's worth noting, however, that Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the doctor who detected Omicron in South Africa and alerted authorities about it, indicated that the hype surrounding the new variant is too much. She added that Omicron is not a cause for concern, noting that while the symptoms are "unusual," they are "mild" and can be treated at home.