Covid Panel Considered Do-Nothing Policy

Travellers seen at Ben Gurion Airport. (Flash90)

The government’s expert advisory panel on the coronavirus initially considered taking no action in response to the current surge of Delta variant in the country, but decided instead to recommend moderate intervention, Globes reported on Sunday.

The panel thought that the public might accept a reasonable mortality rate, as in the case of other diseases against which no restrictions are applied.

However, it was decided that even if fatalities do not increase significantly, the rise in hospitalizations and quarantines would, and that would trigger an uproar.

At the same time, the experts agreed that a full-scale campaign to eradicate the virus, with all the attendant restrictions and disruptions to the economy, would not be worthwhile, in the face of Delta and other variants being brought into the country from overseas, the reports said.

The middle path, which the government has chosen to pursue for the time being at least, emphasizes tightening control at Ben Gurion Airport, continuing the vaccination campaign; reducing morbidity among youths and children by moving as much activity as possible into the open air and ensuring maximum ventilation of closed spaces; and making tests accessible.

The members of the panel are: Prof. Ran Balicer (chairman), Chief Innovation Officer – Clalit Health Services; Prof. Nachman Ash, national coronavirus coordinator; Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health; Prof. Arnon Afek, Associate Director General Director of Sheba Medical Center; Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Dr. Dror Dicker, head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Rabin Medical Center; Yoram Hamou, formerly IDF head of technological intelligence; Dr. Boaz Lev, head of the government advisory committee for coronavirus vaccines; Dr. Adi Niv-Yagoda, an expert on health policy; Dr. Dorit Nitzan, a senior person in the World Health Organization; Dr. Ohad Kleiner, deputy head of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health; and Prof. Galia Rahav, head of the Infectious Disease Unit and Laboratories at the Sheba Medical Center. Other participants in the current discussion were Dr. Noa Triki, head of the Medical Technology Policy Department at Maccabi Health Services; and the experts who built the morbidity forecasting model, Dr. Amit Huppert, head of the Biostatistics and Biomathematics Unit at the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, and Nir Gavish, an associate professor and mathematical modelling expert at the Technion.

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