Holiday Closure:
'Lockdowns don't reduce deaths - they just delay them'

Doctors urge Netanyahu to cancel lockdown as immunology expert warns that lockdown won't be able to reduce number of coronavirus deaths.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

A group of doctors and scientists are urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to drop the planned nationwide lockdown and to adopt a new approach to the coronavirus pandemic, urging the government to help the country “live with the virus.”

One of the signatories on the letter to the Prime Minister, Prof. Ariel Munitz, spoke with Radio 103FM to explain his opposition to the current plan for a nationwide lockdown, arguing that lockdowns are an ineffective way to reduce the total death toll of a pandemic.

“We are calling on the government to adopt policies which are rooted in the idea of ‘living with the virus,’” said Prof. Munitz, an expert in immunology at Tel Aviv University.

“These policies need to take in account all of the tapestry and complexity of Israeli life here. The basis for our policies needs to be, in short, something very simple: we need to decide what problem is it we want to solve. If our problem is ensuring that there won’t be any infection whatsoever in the population, then, yes, there is no alternative to having lockdowns. But it is important to remember that lockdowns don’t reduce the fatality rate, they just delay it.”

Prof. Munitz went on to say that if government leaders were not hopeful a vaccine will be available in the near future, they would never consider imposing a lockdown.

“As far as the country goes, having a vaccine in another year or one hundred years, the result is the same thing: the economy won’t be able to survive a year and a half of lockdowns. That’s why we need to find a solution in which we can live with the pandemic.”

When asked how alternative plans would work in Israel, amid claims Israelis are less likely than citizens of other nations to adhere to government regulations, Prof. Munitz said Israelis have “tremendous group solidarity,” while also noting that Israel’s elderly population is significantly lower than many other countries.

“We have a lot of advantages here in Israel. That’s why I say I don’t really care about Sweden, Peru, or Belgium, I’m interested in Israel. If you take it as a given that the population won’t adhere to the rules, then you certainly don’t want a lockdown, since anyway the population won’t follow the rules after you end it. It might actually end up that the fact that the population is less disciplined is a benefit for us. It might be that that is something we need to use against the virus, to create social solidarity.”

Turning to fears the healthcare system could be overwhelmed by the pandemic, Prof. Munitz said, “If the hospital capacity would allow for 2,000 people on respirators per day, then we wouldn’t even be talking about a lockdown and we’d still be living life normally. Hospital capacity is something that we can increase, it is a problem with a definable solution. We can solve it with funding and proper management.”