Bennett, Netanyahu Spar Over Reliability of Rapid Tests

YERUSHALAYIM -
A COVID-19 rapid antigen home-test kit.  (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday launched an online attack against opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu over a video in which the former prime minister questions the reliability of rapid antigen tests.

Israel has recently updated its testing guidelines to prioritize PCR tests for those over 60 and others at risk, while encouraging the use of rapid antigen tests for the rest of the population.

“I have no other way to say this: Netanyahu is knowingly lying and endangering lives, just for political gain,” Bennett wrote in a social media post. “Antigen tests have already saved a great many lives around the world from the coronavirus by identifying infectious people and quarantining them, and prevent the continued infection of people who may be sick or even die.”

While Bennett acknowledged that PCR tests are better able to detect the presence of viral material, he said the limited supply of them must be reserved for the most vulnerable.

“If all of us, including young people, only go get PCR tests, we’ll only get the results in five to six days. In this situation, the same elderly man who was infected will already be in serious condition, and the medication Paxlovid, which must be given at an early stage, will no longer help,” he wrote.

Returning fire, Netanyahu doubled down on his criticism of the rapid tests, accusing Bennett of having Israelis pay with their own money for “inaccurate” home-test kits, while in his tenure all tests were given for free.

“Bennett has lost control over the coronavirus and abandoned Israeli citizens to their fates,” he wrote.