During this week’s Special Committee on dealing with the coronavirus revealed major disagreements between senior health care system officials on coronavirus testing.
Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto said, “We have no intention, or the ability, to open the economy a day after Pesach. That isn’t my recommendation either. There is a myth here. Even if we administer a million tests a day, we will not be able to ‘release’ the economy.”
“It must be understood that there is an ‘arms race’ around the world on the (test) kit issue,” said Prof. Grotto. “We’ve placed many orders, but most of them have fallen through because of the embargo and other problems.”
“Currently, the bottleneck is the reagents. We are working on adjusting the local industries so that they will be able to produce reagents, and they are in the final stages of testing. If everything checks out, we will be able to begin production tomorrow. There is nothing else we can do but trust ourselves. We have a plan to bring in a Chinese company that will set up testing labs. Each lab will be able to provide 10,000 tests a day. This will complete the total to 30,000 a day,” he said.
Prof. Rotstein argued that the most important issue is preventing the spread of the virus.
“The problem in Israel is that because we did not test properly, we’ve created red monsters in certain communities. The PCR provides a solution for this. In Hadassah we have a machine which can add 1,000 tests a day, but the Health Ministry decided that it is not a priority. The opening of the economy cannot be dependent only on sick people getting back to health. The concept should be two tests. The minority are those who have recovered, and the majority are those who did not get sick.”
Prof. Grotto dismissed Prof. Rotstein’s remarks as nonsense, saying “I have much more accurate data than you do.”