Israel Gears Up For Mass Coronavirus Antibody Testing, Says Top Health Official

Blood samples in test-tubes
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A top Israeli health official said on Tuesday that the government is about to launch a campaign to test the population for coronavirus antibodies.

Israeli Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov told The New York Times that 100,000 Israelis across the country will begin undergoing serological testing in one to two weeks to gauge the extent of the spread of the virus thus far and prepare for a possible second wave. His interview came in the wake of an easing in Israel of many restrictions imposed on the public since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“This is the most important mission: Get ready for the next wave, especially a wave during wintertime,” he said. “Luckily, the COVID-19 caught us post-influenza season. But we can’t assume that there’s not going to be a next wave or that it will be during summertime.”

“We want to know the truth” about whether the country is developing “herd immunity,” and therefore will be less vulnerable in the event of additional outbreaks, said Bar Siman Tov.

If the tests reveal that too small a percentage of the population has antibodies, he said, the health system could be overwhelmed by a second wave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday touted Israel’s “major success” in confronting the coronavirus pandemic, and laid out the government’s plan for a phased reopening of the economy following weeks of lockdowns during which borders and most businesses were closed, schools were shuttered, and strict quarantine and social-distancing rules were enforced.

As of Wednesday morning, Israel’s COVID-19 death toll stood at 238 with 5,549 active coronavirus cases.




    Talk about creepy. The Georgia Department of Public Health has announced that it, the United Sates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and county health boards are together sending teams of government agents to randomly selected homes in two Georgia counties. These teams of government agents are charged with asking questions, including about household members’ health, and extracting blood from all the people living in the homes. The reason given for the home visits is — you may have guessed it — coronavirus.

  2. Viewpoint
    COVID-19: Beyond Tomorrow
    May 6, 2020
    Privileges and Immunity Certification During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Some European countries are considering serological tests to issue immunity certifications (passports) that give holders certain time-limited work and social freedoms, joining larger gatherings or returning to nonessential jobs,3 and the US government is considering similar proposals.4 Certifications commonly form part of infection control strategies in other settings; eg, states prescribe vaccine requirements for childcare and health care workers. Public health screening programs require schoolteachers prove they do not have tuberculosis. Many countries require visitors to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
    However, an immunity certificate program for COVID-19 would be unparalleled in several ways. First, because COVID-19 is not (yet) vaccine-preventable, inoculation must come entirely from prior infection. Second, the program likely would apply more broadly than to only a handful of selected professions or activities. Third, the conditioned “privileges” could include a greater range of fundamental civil liberties and opportunities, like freedom of association, worship, work, education, and travel.

    COVID-19: Beyond Tomorrow
    May 6, 2020

    The Ethics of COVID-19 Immunity-Based Licenses (“Immunity Passports”)

    Chile, Germany, and the UK, among others, have indicated they will implement certifications that a person has contracted and recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or, in the future, has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Such policies have been discussed, but not implemented, in the US. However, if other countries require these certifications for entrance, the US may adopt them to enable travel, generating calls to use them more broadly.
    Certifications of immunity are sometimes called “immunity passports” but are better conceptualized as immunity-based licenses. Such policies raise important questions about fairness, stigma, and counterproductive incentives but could also further individual freedom and improve public health.
    Immunity licenses should not be evaluated against a baseline of normalcy, ie, uninfected free movement. Rather, they should be compared to the alternatives of enforcing strict public health restrictions for many months or permitting activities that could spread infection, both of which exacerbate inequalities and impose serious burdens. This Viewpoint presents a framework for analyzing the ethics of immunity licenses.
    ……. Conclusions
    Immunity-based licenses have the potential to help realize important values, including enhancing the liberty of individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 without worsening the situation of those who have not been infected, maximizing benefits to individuals and society by allowing immune people to engage in economic activity, and protecting the least advantaged by allowing safer care for vulnerable populations. Importantly, immunity-based licenses do not violate equal treatment because the factors used to grant a license are not discriminatory, like race or religion, but instead grounded in relevant evidence. While immunity-based licenses require careful implementation and scientific support to be ethical in practice, nothing makes them unethical in principle.



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