Opinion: Over past 2 years coronavirus has evolved, and so did our response, shifting from strict quarantines to ‘living with pathogen’; government called this infection wave a ‘huge success,’ but it was a failure of which we should all be ashamed

Over 10,000 Israelis have succumbed to COVID-19 since its onset almost two years ago in what looks to be one of the biggest national disasters Israel has ever known.

More than 10,000 men, women, parents, brothers and sisters, who if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, they would still be with us, laughing and enjoying life.

בית חולים שערי צדק
COVID ward at Shaare Zedek Medical Center (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)


These people died because of COVID, not despite of it as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tried to argue last week. Even if they had underlying health conditions, these people could have gone on to live for another year, two years, five or maybe even 10 or 20. Who knows? But their lives were cut short brutally due to the pandemic. They suffocated to death, alone, in terrible suffering.

Doesn’t matter how we may try to justify these deaths, it will not bring these people back. Even if we try to minimize the importance of these deaths, say it was a result of “God’s will,” or imply that most of the dead were elderly, sick, or unvaccinated – who brought the disease on themselves – these people still wanted to live and some of them would have had that option if we would have bothered to fight for them.

Two years have passed since we first heard about the COVID-19 virus. And thanks to the experience we have gained, the battle against the pandemic appears a lot different now than how it looked in the beginning.

מחלקת הקורונה בבית החולים בילינסון בפתח תקווה
COVID-19 ward at Rabin Medical Center (Photo: Yariv Katz)


The means at our disposal nowadays are much better. We have many treatment options that have been modified and improved throughout the pandemic. For example, steroids, which were initially considered harmful, turned out to be useful, at least in the early phase of the disease. The same goes for artificial ventilation, which at first was given to patients at an early stage of the disease and often marked the final stop in the patient’s life, and now is much more effective.

The vaccines, despite their well-known limitations and diminished protection against the Omicron variant, also managed to change the way we approach the pandemic since those who chose to get vaccinated are usually protected against a severe COVID illness.

Finally, the development of medicine that helps in protecting those in at-risk groups.

חיסון קורונה בנתניה
COVID vaccine (Photo: AFP)


The coronavirus also changed and over the past two years mutated into several strains, which allowed it to evolve and continue to spread. But the latest variants are much different than the original one, which was more deadly. The disease the new variants cause is also different, and the coronavirus probably has more things in store for us in the future.

Our way of dealing with COVID has evolved as well. From the policy of lockdowns and quarantines to “life alongside the pandemic”. We insist on going back to our “routine,” many times burying our heads deep in the sand and completely ignoring what is going on around us. The current government has chosen to do the same and “contain the dead,” as Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked once let slip.

But those who paid the ultimate price for these policies were the sick, poor, and weak, those who weren’t vaccinated, those who couldn’t avoid the infection, and those who live in areas where hospitals couldn’t provide the adequate care to save their lives.

This fifth COVID wave is not a “tremendous success,” as Bennett put it. It is the exact opposite – an abject failure. Not just an administrative and leadership failure but also a conscientious and moral one. The number of dead in the fifth wave alone stands at more than 1,700, and it is not over yet.

מתחמי הבילוי בראשון לציון
Israelis pack in restaurants mid fifth coronavirus wave (Photo: Tal Shimoni)


Since the beginning of February, more than a thousand people have died, some of whom could have been saved at a small price of minor and proportional restrictions. But our government chose to ignore the experts who repeatedly advised to recalculate the course of action. And the cost of this failure has been paid by thousands of families who lost their loved ones, and tens of thousands whose health has severely damaged by the disease.

As the fifth wave wanes, we all have to think deeply about the consequences of the havoc it has caused. First and foremost, the government chose to surrender the fight against the fifth wave before it even kicked off, leaving the public to their own fate. However, the public also has a role to play in this.

By insisting on getting back to normal without any compromise, it put a large sector of the population at risk. We all must share blame for this disaster.

Since the next wave is just a matter of time, we must decide how we move forward. After three infection waves with harsh restrictions, and two with almost no curbs at all, it is time for us to find the balance that will allow us to continue our daily life as much as possible without compromising the lives of others.

As reported by Ynetnews