Sheba Tel-Hashomer Hospital Infectious Diseases Unit head Professor Galia Rahav and former Health Ministry Director Professor Yoram Lass debated coronavirus as part of the Maariv conference.
Prof. Lass argued, "We're talking only about data and not personal experience. The data say that there was no first wave in Israel. The word epidemic cannot be used when there's no excessive mortality. In Europe, excessive mortality was only 15 percent, more than the 2018 influenza excessive mortality.
"The European epidemic ended 3 weeks ago, with no second wave of mortality. I'm not avoiding debate about the U.S., but it's the country with the worst public health system in the world. And back to Israel, there's certainly no second wave. An honest person can't talk about an epidemic when mortality goes down."
Rahav responded, "I ask Professor Lass to withhold such sentences from people who are dying to hear them, because it's dangerous and irresponsible. In terms of numbers, just looking at the mortality rate isn't the correct approach. I work in a hospital where 50% of those recovered still have to deal with after-effects. It's not that they just went home healthy; they're in a long rehabilitation. I see so many people in the community who walk around with coronavirus and they have so many bad medical symptoms that they can't handle it anymore. The health system has a serious problem with this. The second wave is worse than the first. It's not right to count only mortality. Cases of new serious patients need to be counted."
Prof. Lass replied, "A million people are sitting at home; people can't marry so as to give Sheba Hospital medical experiences. Ichilov Hospital joined me; a pity they didn't join me three months ago. This means destruction of the State of Israel. In the winter there will be thousands of seriously ill patients. A thousand people will die, we have never destroyed the State of Israel in the winter. In Europe, there's ten percent more flu epidemic."
Prof. Rahav responded: "Yes, the economy is hard hit, but I can already say that there is no tourism because of corona, no one will come here with this number of people infected, and Israelis cannot leave the country. If we do not do something drastic, the number will keep on increasing. I hope we do not end up like Italy.".
Prof. Lass continued: "There's an illusion in the world that says a government can stop a virus. The virus is everywhere and no government can stop it. In winter when influenza viruses abound, between 5-10 percent of the population are infected. In tests done now: 5 percent of the tests are positive. In my estimation, a million Israelis are positive."