Israel must rethink its COVID-19 response strategy, a senior health expert said on Thursday, as infections explode nationwide ushered in by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Prof. Ran Balicer, who heads the expert panel advising the government on the pandemic, believes since the Omicron variant can evade vaccine protection, the Green Pass — a document that allows Israelis who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the disease access to public accommodations — has run its course and is no longer relevant.
“Everyone should now proceed with caution, avoiding going to crowded places, including those requiring the Green Pass since they are dangerous at this time,” he said. “Places that require a Green Pass are no longer protected from Omicron infections, this has to be acknowledged and said sincerely.”
Prof. Galia Rahav, head of the infectious disease department at Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital, told Ynet that the Green Pass mandate is a “farce”. The certificate is issued to Israelis who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus or recovered from it within the last six months.
“What meaning does it have anymore when we know that some 80% if not more of those who were confirmed to carry the virus are vaccinated?” said Prof. Rahav. “Sure, the vaccine is important and protects against serious illness, but I don’t know what is the point of this setup anymore.”