The health minister of Israel – which has experienced a spike in COVID cases and deaths after becoming one of the most-vaccinated nations in the world – was caught on a hot mic admitting so-called “Green Pass” vaccine passports were not being implemented for scientific reasons.
Unaware his conversation prior to a Cabinet meeting was being broadcast live on Israel’s Channel 12, Nitzan Horowitz told Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked there is no epidemiological justification for the COVID passport, and it is only intended to pressure the unvaccinated to vaccinate.
Horowitz said Sunday, reported Jewish News Syndicate, that Israel should lift the requirement that a Green Pass be presented for entry to outdoor swimming pools as well as restaurants.
“Epidemiologically, it’s true,” that they are not justified, Horowitz told Shaked. “The thing is, I’m telling you, our problem is people who don’t get vaccinated. We need [to influence] them a bit; otherwise, we won’t get out of this [pandemic].”
The health minister acknowledged the vaccine passport system wasn’t being enforced in most venues.
Israel initially touted the Green Pass as an “early vision of how we leave lockdown.” The country has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, with about 78% of the population ages 12 and older fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
However, Israeli Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said Tuesday that the country is experiencing a wave of coronavirus infections surpassing previous outbreaks, the Times of Israel reported.
Ash told the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee that more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases had been diagnosed the previous day and the positive test rate was climbing.
“That is a record that did not exist in the previous waves,” including the massive third wave at the end of last year, he said.
In June, daily infections were down to little more than a dozen a day.
On Sept. 4, Israel’s national coronavirus czar, Salman Zarka, called for the country to prepare for a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Israelis over age 60 began receiving a third dose on July 30.
“Given that that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection,” Zarka told Kan public radio.
He said the next booster shot may be modified to target variants such as the highly infectious delta strain.
“This is our life from now on, in waves,” he said.
Meanwhile, a study by Israeli researchers found that natural immunity from a previous coronavirus infection is 27 times more effective than the COVID vaccines.
Another 15 studies found also natural immunity to be superior.
See the exchange between Israeli cabinet members: