A video from March has surfaced on social media recalling the moment when senior Health Ministry officials spoke between themselves in preparation for a press briefing, not realizing they were broadcasting live.
"It's something that could also happen to us, it's a danger we're familiar with in live broadcast," was how the clip was introduced by the Channel 13 News anchor. "But when Health Ministry Director Bar Simantov sat with Professor Sigal Sadetzki today before the press conference, he asked her a question, whether to say something, she said to him 'no'; let's see the clip."
What follows is a video of former Health Ministry Director Moshe Bar Simantov leaning towards Health Ministry Public Health Services Director Professor Sigal Sadetzki and whispering, "Did you see the data about 70% reliability of the PCR?"
Sadetzki answers, "No, but I saw the reasons that can lower the PCR's validity."
At this point, a technician breaks in with "Sigal, you're broadcasting."
Department of Microbiology and Clinical Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University member and head of the Coronavirus Laboratory at Tel Aviv University Prof. Ariel Munitz told Arutz Sheva that "the PCR test is very accurate technically speaking, with a very low rate of false positive. However," he said, "at early days of infection it might not be capable of detecting and will therefore result in a false negative.
"The main problem with the PCR test, which currently is the only diagnostic test for COVID-19, is not technical but biological. The main question is what is the cycle where the person testing positive is still infectious? Several studies have shown that although 'technically' accurate, high cycles of detection may not mean too much.
"We should definitely conduct a study comparing the ability of a sample to infect cells vs. the cycle where viral genetic material was detected."
Professor Munitz continued: "In addition, my opinion is that we should act fiercely to 'disconnect the chains of infection' only where they matter (e.g. people at risk, mandatory workers etc.), rather than testing and isolating the entire population."
The New York Times wrote: "The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.
"This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are."
Channel 12 News reported that while Germany uses 30 amplification cycles, Singapore 32, and the United States 34, Israel uses up to a full 37 amplification cycles to detect viral genetic matter.
Many experts agree that anything higher than 30 amplification cycles will result in inactive, dead, or clinically insignificant amounts of the virus being detected, therefore causing the test to show as positive.
Health Communication Lecturer at IDC Herzliya International School Dr. Yaffa Shir Raz wrote: "So what does over 37 rounds mean?
"The inconceivable consequences of this finding are not only on the number of living 'positives' who will surely become negative if they are cultured - but also on the number of deaths classified as coronavirus only because of a positive asymptomatic test. Who knows how many rounds were done there?
"In other words - it means the collapse of the chicken legs on which the entire card tower of the plague in Israel stands," Shir Raz wrote.