Experts debate necessity of corona lockdown as it's about to begin

A group of doctors and medical experts, some of whom held senior positions in the Health Ministry, have expressed great opposition to entering the lockdown.

Israeli border policewomen chat with local residents at the entrance to Bnei Brak as Israel enforces a lockdown of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish town badly affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Bnei Brak, Israel April 3, 2020 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Israeli border policewomen chat with local residents at the entrance to Bnei Brak as Israel enforces a lockdown of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish town badly affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Bnei Brak, Israel April 3, 2020
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Medical experts remained divided as Israel prepared to enter its third lockdown on Sunday regarding its necessity and effectiveness.
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash and Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy both started the day by giving radio interviews and explaining why imposing a lockdown now is important.
Past experience had proved that a lockdown goes a long way in combating the spread of the virus, Levy told Army Radio.
“I really think that we exited the previous lockdown too soon; the reality completely turned on us,” he said Sunday morning, adding that exiting the lockdown led to a direct surge of “morbidity rates, reproduction rates and the number of patients in serious condition.”
Addressing an interview given by coronavirus committee chairwoman MK Yifat Shasha-Biton to N12 on Saturday, when she said the “lockdown is clearly political” and that she “couldn’t find any explanation why we’re entering another lockdown,” Ash told 103 FM Radio he did not know why the MK would say that, stressing that “the lockdown is not political. We don’t have a choice.”
On the other hand, a group of doctors and medical experts who have convened to establish the National Public Emergency Committee for the Coronavirus Pandemic, some of whom held senior positions in the Health Ministry, have strongly opposed the lockdown concept and questioned its benefits.
“Members of the government were presented with problematic facts that have led to an unnecessary lockdown,” the group said Sunday in a letter to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which must approve the lockdown directives. It demanded that the decision be revoked.
The letter mentions various clauses in the document that the committee must approve before the government can implement the lockdown and questions their reliability by providing alternate facts and explanations that appear to contradict the need for a lockdown.
The letter cites a clause that states: “While the vaccination campaign is underway, it will take several months for vaccines to influence the scope of morbidity rates.”
Data published by the FDA shows that the process will not take too long, experts said, adding that “most of the at-risk population will be vaccinated in less than a month.”
Another point refers to hospitals and their ability to cope with the rising morbidity rates. The letter questions a clause that states: “Some hospitals are already under a lot of pressure,” adding that “the burden during the month of December is not only low; it’s exceptionally low.”
The experts stressed the grave economic implications a lockdown will cause, saying that the “price will be equivalent to the establishment of more than 10 big hospitals.”
“There is a significant gap between the reality and the situation described in the document calling for a lockdown,” they said in the letter and called on the committee not to approve “this devastating and needless lockdown.”
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein chose to focus on other aspects when addressing the national campaign to vaccinate as much of the population as possible, which completed its first week on Sunday.
“We’re completing the first week of coronavirus vaccinations with an unbelievable number of 280,000 vaccinated people,” he tweeted, adding that 71,000 were vaccinated during the weekend alone. “We’ll continue to keep Israel safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Sunday told Magen David Adom, the national emergency medical service, not to send coronavirus patients to Jerusalem hospitals to help alleviate the pressure they are under.
Patients from the Jerusalem area were sent to hospitals in central Israel starting Sunday, including Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus Hospital in Petah Tikva and the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.