Is Israel abandoning the health pass?
dpa/ Olia Yefimovich
Israel was the first country in the world to impose a health pass on its population in February 2021, and they may well abolish it a year later, in the middle of the fifth wave.
While in France, the vaccination pass has just come into force, Israel is faced with the question of its extension after January. And this pass, which conditions access to certain activities on the condition of a vaccination, a recovery or a negative rapid test less than 24 hours old, is no longer unanimously supported in the country.
On all the media, we can see at the beginning of this week a piece of information repeated as it is: the Israeli specialists would consider the pass as “obsolete and even dangerous” and would simply like to end it. Like in this publication, posted on Twitter.
This new wave due to Omicron, the latest opinion of the advisory committee was particularly expected. Its president, Prof. Ran Balicer, disclosed its content on Sunday, January 23, on his Twitter account: “It is recommended not to renew the regulation of the green passport.
The second and third doses protect well against serious disease, but with Omicron, it does not protect sufficiently against infection and the green pass gatherings are not safe. The green pass must be kept in conjunction with a negative antigen test in facilities.”
The position of the experts is not the clearest and has not necessarily been well understood by the public. With only a few days to go before its expiration date, is the committee recommending that it be abandoned or that it be reinforced by superimposing it on a negative test? When contacted, Prof. Ran Balicer did not get back to us for the moment.
In the meantime, more and more voices are being raised in this direction. A few days earlier, the Minister of Finance spoke out on the green passport, contrasting public health and economic issues.
All the newspapers are moving in this direction with editorials calling for the very existence of the pass to be questioned. For example, according to the Jerusalem Post, “The Green Pass has been effective both in reducing the number of potential carriers gathering in public places and in encouraging people to get vaccinated. Omicron, however, has made it less effective, especially since the vaccination rate is relatively high anyway.
Is the pass no longer protective enough?
All the specialists have the same argument: with the outbreak due to the Omicron variant, the pass makes public places less safe by creating a false impression of security. However, in the country, the number of contaminations is breaking records with an average of 90,000 new cases daily. With only 5,000 people testing positive every day at the beginning of January, the curve of new cases is impressive, as can be seen on the Our world in Data platform. At the same time, the country is recording the highest number of hospitalized patients since January 2021 with more than 2300 Covid patients in hospital.
The Israeli government wants to start with a new dose of vaccine for the entire adult population, following the advisory committee. A communiqué in this sense was published by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday 25 January. As for the green passport, nothing has been decided yet. On the website of the Ministry of Health, the validity rules of the pass are still in force. But with an expiration date fast approaching, the Israeli executive knows that it is time to make a choice.