Ehud Qimron: Israeli immunologist slams ‘failed’ coronavirus response

Ehud Qimron: Israeli immunologist slams ‘failed’ coronavirus response

A leading Israeli immunologist has penned a scathing open letter slamming the government for its “failed” coronavirus response, saying the virus “cannot be defeated”.

A leading Israeli immunologist has penned a scathing open letter slamming the government for its “failed” coronavirus response.

Writing for N12 News, Professor Ehud Qimron, head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University, accused the Israeli Ministry of Health of pursuing “destructive policies” for the past two years out of a “lust for power, budgets and control”.

In the wide-ranging opinion piece, Prof Qimron attacked the government over lockdowns, restrictions and vaccine mandates, alleging health authorities had ignored established epidemiological science and pandemic plans at the outset – and then refused to adjust policies in the face of real-world data.

His comments calling on the Health Ministry to “admit failure” come as the country grapples with an Omicron wave that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says could see up to 40 per cent of the population infected.

“Two years late, you finally realise that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail,” Prof Qimron wrote.

“You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame.

“You refused to admit that the infection comes in waves that fade by themselves, despite years of observations and scientific knowledge. You insisted on attributing every decline of a wave solely to your actions, and so through false propaganda ‘you overcame the plague’. And again you defeated it, and again and again and again.

“You refused to admit that mass testing is ineffective, despite your own contingency plans explicitly stating so.

“You refused to admit that recovery is more protective than a vaccine, despite previous knowledge and observations showing that non-recovered vaccinated people are more likely to be infected than recovered people. You refused to admit that the vaccinated are contagious despite the observations. Based on this, you hoped to achieve herd immunity by vaccination – and you failed in that as well.

“You insisted on ignoring the fact that the disease is dozens of times more dangerous for risk groups and older adults, than for young people who are not in risk groups, despite the knowledge that came from China as early as 2020.”

Prof Qimron said the Israeli government should have adopted the “Great Barrington Declaration”, a 2020 document authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University calling for an end to “devastating” lockdown policies around the world.

“You chose to ridicule, slander, distort and discredit them,” he wrote.

“The truth is that you have brought the public’s trust in you to an unprecedented low, and you have eroded your status as a source of authority.

“The truth is that you have burned hundreds of billions of shekels to no avail – for publishing intimidation, for ineffective tests, for destructive lockdowns and for disrupting the routine of life in the last two years.

“You have destroyed the education of our children and their future. You have harmed livelihoods, the economy, human rights, mental health and physical health. You slandered colleagues who did not surrender to you, you turned the people against each other, divided society and polarised the discourse.”

He was also critical of Israel’s “Green Pass” vaccine passport system, saying the government had branded, “without any scientific basis, people who chose not to get vaccinated as enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease”.

Despite skyrocketing Covid-19 cases, Prof Qimron claimed that there was “currently no medical emergency”.

“But you have been cultivating such a condition for two years now because of lust for power, budgets and control,” he wrote.

“The only emergency now is that you still set policies and hold huge budgets for propaganda and psychological engineering instead of directing them to strengthen the health care system.”

Israel confronts Omicron wave

Like many other countries, Israel is facing an unprecedented caseload fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Last week, Mr Bennett said data provided to cabinet suggested “between two to four million citizens in total will be infected during this current wave”.

Israel’s population is just 9.4 million.

Tens of thousands of cases are being reported every day, overwhelming testing facilities nationwide.

Despite the surge in cases, the Israeli government has so far avoided reimposing lockdowns and most other restrictions, insisting it can manage an infection wave with a peak that may still be weeks away.

Shortly after the Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa in November, Israel heavily curbed international travel.

Cyrille Cohen, a life sciences professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, described this as “a good move”, which delayed large-scale local transmission and bought time to prepare for the coming wave, including by securing Covid-19 treatment supplies.

But he said Israel did not use this time to adequately boost testing capacity, a fact now driving public frustration.

With domestic transmission surging, Israel concluded that travel restrictions would do little other than harm the economy.

It has both reopened its skies and allowed bars, restaurants, gyms, houses of worship and other facilities to stay open.

Prof Cohen told AFP that Israel has effectively “transferred some of the management of this crisis from the authorities to the people”, giving primary responsibility to residents to self-test and quarantine.

Mr Bennett said last week that “Israel is following three guiding principles: keep our economy open, protect the most vulnerable folks in society – elders – and to take care of our children”.

“We have difficult weeks ahead, but there is no need to panic,” he told reporters.

More than 80 per cent of Israeli adults have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and more than half have received a booster.

Israel said last month it intends to begin rolling out a fourth shot to combat Omicron, despite a lack of scientific evidence on its impact.

“Israel is open to doing things based on rationale without scientific proof,” Hagai Levine, chairman of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, told AFP.

“This is sometimes worth it – as was the case with the first and third jab, which were administered quickly and, looking back, this paid off.”

– With AFP

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Author: Shirley