Professor Salman Zarka
Professor Salman Zarka Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Coronavirus czar Professor Salman Zarka on Wednesday morning responded to the approval of Merck's COVID-19 medication.

"The fact that there is an approved medication is important news, and there is another medication which is in the process," Prof. Zarka told 103 FM Radio. "I hope that we will have more tools, so that it will be possible to help patients. This isn't a perfect medication, absolutely not. But it is important so that it will be possible to help patients, especially patients who have issues and who might experience complications."

According to him, "the most important tool is vaccines, so that we can protect ourselves and not need these medications. But we need every tool in this war. There are always negotiations on the options. The moment they begin marketing, I think that the citizens of Israel can be safe. As long as the medication is approved, that medication will be available in Israel."

Regarding the vaccines various countries have placed on those who refuse the vaccine, Prof. Zarka said, "I think that we need to examine all the options, including the option of making the vaccine mandatory in the State of Israel."

Prof. Zarka emphasized, "This is my stance, and right now it does not reflect any action on this matter - not in the Health Ministry, and not in the government."

He added, "Israel's approach is more understanding - and that comes with a price."

"I don't know of legal work in the field," Prof. Zarka noted. "There is no legislative process or team work on legislation which is on the table right now. Right now we are not, practically, in a place where a law will be enacted by surprise, to require vaccination. I think that what is happening in Austria, placing a lockdown only on those who are unvaccinated, is not appropriate. I think it's a problematic slippery slope."

Concluding his remarks, Prof. Zarka spoke about the Omicron variant, saying, "I am concerned, I think that the variant is sounding loud warning bells that the pandemic will continue to accompany us. A week ago, perhaps, the words 'fifth wave' were hesitant. Today, I am more concerned. The pandemic is not just here, and I am concerned it will grow."

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