Israel conducts nationwide "war games" to prepare for future post-vaccine COVID-19 outbreaks
Israel held a drill on Thursday, Nov. 11, to test its readiness
for future outbreaks of more lethal Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) post-vaccine variants.
With over 64 percent of the population fully vaccinated
and 44 percent having received booster doses, Israel is one of the most fully vaccinated countries on the planet. (Related: Covid doesn't even exist in fully normal Sweden, while deaths are skyrocketing in fully vaccinated Israel
The nationwide drill, held in the format of a "war game,"
was called the "Omega Exercise" by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett has regularly used the term "omega strain" to refer to a yet-to-be-discovered variant of COVID-19.
"We are starting an unprecedented event here – not only on an Israeli scale but on a global level. We are conducting a war exercise to prepare for a new variant that does not even exist yet," said Bennett in a statement.
"The most threatening thing is not the current situation, but what we do not know yet. Just as the delta strain suddenly and violently erupted, other more deadly and more contagious vaccine-resistant variants could arrive."
Bennett held the Omega Exercise at the headquarters
of the National Management Center, in a nuclear bunker in Jerusalem that was reportedly built to shield the government
against attacks from Palestinian or Iranian militants.
With Bennett in the bunker were multiple government ministry director generals, representatives from professional agencies, the national coronavirus project manager, the director of Israel's Public Health Services, at least one member of parliament and multiple representatives from the Israeli military
Omega Exercise tests Israel's disaster preparedness
Bennett warned that the world is still in danger of future outbreaks. He failed to point out that these outbreaks will most likely be due to the COVID-19 vaccines.
"While the situation of coronavirus in the world is deteriorating, Israel is safe and protected," he claimed in a statement. "In order to maintain this, and to safeguard the continuity of normal life, we must continue to closely monitor the situation and prepare for any scenario."
The Omega Exercise, war-gamed over three sessions to simulate the passage of time in Israel after the beginning of a new outbreak, tested the resilience of the country's public health systems. These are the systems that determine the level of lockdown, monitor the spread of post-vaccine COVID-19 variants, offer economic support for citizens, enforce quarantines and keep an eye on the country's border crossings.
The goal of the war games was also to figure out a way for Israel to deal with a new COVID-19 outbreak without economically sanctioning its citizens. Bennett said that the country dealt with the post-vaccine delta outbreak without lockdowns and it could do so again "with proper management."
The government is going to evaluate the preparedness of the country in terms of public health, economic health, internal security, travel and communications.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said assessment of the results of the war game will proceed immediately as soon as they conclude. The results of the war games will help the government craft specific policies for how to handle potential spreaders of the coronavirus such as tourism, public gatherings and other events.
The war games were conducted around the same time the government approved giving COVID-19 vaccines to children aged five to 11. The country's Ministry of Health
is set to begin its mass vaccination campaign on that age group as soon as the country receives the doses from Pfizer.
"There is no reason to leave our children defenseless," said Bennett from the nuclear bunker after the government announced the mass vaccination campaign. "There is no reason why a child should infect, and be infected, by others and, under certain conditions, also deal with the side effects of long COVID, a series of difficult phenomena, when their entire lives are yet before them."
"I call on parents, vaccinate your children
," he continued. "Safeguard them. Give them the same layer of protection that you have."
About half of all new cases of COVID-19 in Israel are occurring in children aged 12 and under. These children were most likely infected by their vaccinated parents and other older relatives.
Learn more about how highly vaccinated countries like Israel are preparing for the consequences of their mass vaccination programs at Pandemic.news