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In Case of Surgeon With Omicron, Cause for Optimism

So far, just one of his many contacts has also tested positive
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2021 1:40 AM CST
Updated Dec 2, 2021 6:56 AM CST
Case of Surgeon With Omicron Holds Optimistic News
People queue to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Lenasia South Hospital, near Johannesburg. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.   (AP Photo/ Shiraaz Mohamed)

(Newser) – Dr. Elad Maor returned to Israel from a cardiology conference in London last week, thrice testing negative for COVID-19 before leaving the UK and after arriving back home. So he worked as usual, attending a hospital staff meeting, seeing patients, attending another cardiology conference, eating with colleagues, visiting with relatives, and attending a piano recital. Then, within a few days, he became on Saturday the first Israeli to test positive for the omicron variant of COVID. The surprising thing? So far, only one of all those contacts has tested positive for the coronavirus, a colleague Maor drove with to and from the Israel conference. His own wife and children remain negative. While it can take several days for people to test positive and not everyone has yet been tested, dozens have already been screened, some of them multiple times, the New York Times reports.

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As a result, infectious disease experts at Sheba Medical Center, the hospital where Maor works, are cautiously optimistic that those who are fully vaccinated and have gotten a booster shot may be better protected against omicron than was initially feared. The people Maor spent the most time with before testing positive had gotten three vaccine doses—as had Maor, who notes that even so, he was in bed for two full days and didn't start feeling better until another three days after that. "If I didn’t have the vaccine, I probably would have ended up in the hospital," he says. The case also shows, experts say, that travelers arriving to a new country should ideally be tested every day for at least five days. And lastly, as the Guardian reports, Maor's case raises questions about how early omicron was in the UK; Maor is convinced that's where he was infected. (Read more omicron variant stories.)

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