Former Israeli Health Ministry Director-General and one-time Labor MK Yoram Lass has declared the coronavirus pandemic “dead,” writing that the virus has been essentially eliminated by antibodies developed by people infected during the first wave.
Prof. Lass, who has long been critical of the Israeli government’s restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, wrote an open letter Friday to the Israeli Health Ministry’s new director-general, Hezy Levy, who recently replaced Moshe Bar Siman Tov.
In the letter, Lass wrote that upwards of one million Israelis have already been infected with the coronavirus, and that the ensuing herd immunity, with those infected developing antibodies to attack the COVID-19 virus, has effectively killed off the coronavirus.
“Already, between half a million to a million Israelis have been infected by the coronavirus (about the same as seasonal diseases)” he stated.
“Everyone is healthy. The virus is dead (the antibodies eliminated it).”
Lass went on to criticize the Health Ministry’s use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA tests, which he said have led to a large number of false positives, as they do not distinguish between active cases of the coronavirus and residual RNA traces of infections that have already passed. Lass argued that the recent spike in positive tests of the coronavirus - what has been dubbed the "second wave" of the pandemic - largely reflects inactive cases of the virus.
“The tests you are carrying out (PCR) don’t distinguish between an ‘active virus’ and a ‘dead virus’ which is not dangerous and cannot infect others.”
“In both cases, the test (which identifies the virus’ RNA, whether it is dead or alive) will come out as ‘positive,’” he noted.
“Before you close down a school or a city, conduct a ‘culture test.’ Only this test can prove that the virus is alive and able to infect others,” he urged.
In March, Prof. Lass accused the media and government of exaggerating the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, but drew criticism from some Health Ministry officials, who said Lass’ comments could mislead the public.
"I want to balance things out. The hysteria is not good, but neither is complacency,” said Dr. Asher Salmon, head of the Ministry’s department of international relations.
"People could understand you in a way that will endanger the public health. This is not flu, although there is a similarity in symptoms and it's true that most people have it lightly, but when [coronavirus] gets bad it's a very serious disease," he cautioned.
On Thursday, Health Ministry Director-General Hezy Levy rejected Lass’ claims, adding he was unwilling to discuss the pandemic with Lass.
"I'm willing to hear criticism of the way the Health Ministry has handled the epidemic, and to sit down and discuss issues with my critics," he said, "but not with Professor Yoram Lass."