End of the Pandemic: Israel to Downgrade Coronavirus to Flu Status

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Israel will declare the coronavirus pandemic officially over next month, with the viral disease being downgraded to the status of the flu.

As of Jan. 18, the country’s civilian health system will be handed responsibility for all Covid-related treatment and testing, taking over from the Home Front Command.

On the last day of January, the coronavirus will be categorized alongside influenza. The pandemic control center will be shuttered, and Covid patients will no longer require isolation.

According to Professor Cyrille Cohen, a member of the Health Ministry’s advisory council for clinical Covid vaccine trials, the goal was to get the virus to an “endemic” stage, with the disease spreading at an expected rate.

“We’re hoping that our health care system can cope with these winter infections, including Covid,” Cohen told i24NEWS.

“We are more in a scenario where we are behaving like any other viral disease in the winter,” he added, noting that most of the public had moved on from the pandemic with less mask-wearing and many people not getting tested.

Meanwhile, the former head of the Israel Institute for Biological Research, the government institution behind Israel’s failed coronavirus vaccine-attempt, this week drew outrage after tweeting he made a mistake by allowing himself to be vaccinated by the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.

“I erred three times: when I received the first dose, the second dose and the third dose,” Prof. Shmuel Shapira posted this week.

In an interview with Channel 12 News last week, Shapira said he sought to “warn against those who say it saved many lives in Israel. It has many severe side effects, and apparently people have lost their lives because of it. They’re trying to paper this over a bit.”

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called Shapira’s remarks “ridiculous and damaging,” adding that he’s “joining the conspiratorial wave of COVID-deniers damaging the public’s trust in the health system. His behavior is shameful.”


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