Since the start of the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Israel, on December 3, 2021, around 600 Israelis - 595 as of Wednesday morning - have died of the virus, with the majority (over 500) dying in January.
Examination of the data shows that 0.5% of those over 60 who were unvaccinated - died. Together with them were 0.1% of vaccinated individuals over 60, and 0.3% of those over 60 who were partially vaccinated.
By comparison, in the previous waves in 2021, 11% of those who were over 60 and unvaccinated died of coronavirus, along with 3% of those who were fully vaccinated and 4.1% of those who were only partially vaccinated.
Professor Ronit Calderon-Margalit of Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine told Israel Hayom that the main failure was the lack of communication with the public regarding the question of loss versus benefit. According to her, more could have been done for the elderly and immunocompromised.
"In general, there was and still is a policy of mass infection," she explained. "Nothing has been done to prevent this. Basically, there was no significant action which would require public places to take steps such as airing out the rooms. In addition, there was no sale of N-95 masks at a reasonable price."
"It's true that the Omicron wave is less deadly than the Delta, but still, at such a high infection rate, it is clear that in the end there will be a great many people ill, and that they will create an enormous burden on the healthcare system as well as excess mortality which could have been prevented in a better situation."
"We needed to push more people to receive the fourth vaccine," she added. "Anyone who needs it and is worried - should go get vaccinated. That's very important. We see a drop in the level of immunity and protection from the booster, and so it would have been worthwhile to encourage more people at high risk to get vaccinated, because we see that the fourth dose of the vaccine did help protect the public."
"Unfortunately, in all of these points, there was not enough push from the public. In my opinion, there wasn't even a discussion on the question of whether to take this path or to make more efforts to protect those whose health is less good. They just went with what was happening in a kind of indecision. Here, by the way, things can still be done, and we need in my opinion, to take action even today, and we need to wake up on this matter. The approach of, 'there's nothing we can do, and that's it,' is problematic, because there is what to do, and there was what to do, and even now we can do it."