When it comes to the pandemic, the public discourse has recently been focused on issues like the number of available ECMO machines, as if it is a "miracle pill" you can give to the critical patients, so they immediately recover, even though the survival rate among severely ill who get connected to the apparatus is only 50-55 percent.
The bottom line of the fight against the pandemic is not to have as many ECMO machines or ventilators as possible, but to prevent people from getting so ill from the virus that they require ECMOs in the first place.
The Health Ministry might have anticipated the spike in seriously ill and supplied the hospitals with additional ECMO machines, but the real difficulty is in training the staff who are supposed to operate them since currently there is a shortage of trained manpower.
The death toll in the current infection wave has already exceeded 1,300 people and once it has passed, we would have to check if the reason for the relatively low number of serious patients (at least compared to estimates) was due to higher mortality rate in this wave than in previous ones.
Right now, the majority of Israelis are returning to their regular daily lives after almost a month of the High Holidays. This poses a significant challenge. According to the most optimistic scenario, the infection rates will continue to drop.
However, there is a high probability that due to the fact that most schoolchildren are going back to in class learning, many of them will enter isolation and thus partially paralyze the economy. At worst, we could face a renewed rise in infection rates.
There are many things we need to consider in order to make the optimistic scenario possible. One of those things is to stop blaming the professionals in the Health Ministry. They have been working hard around the clock for months now, without a break, and all the public arguments undermine the public's confidence in the decisions they make.
It is also unwise to doubt their decisions while Israel is in the midst of the vaccine booster campaign, and soon, hopefully, after the FDA's approval, vaccination of children below the age of 12. Without the public's trust, it will be difficult to get the parents to agree to vaccinate their children.
Instead of attacking the Health Ministry's professional echelon on a personal basis, it is better to focus on making vaccines more accessible to populations that haven't been vaccinated at all or haven't yet taken the booster shot. Beyond those who decline to get vaccinated, there are still quite a few people who with a bit persuasion will opt to eventually get the shot.
Looking ahead, no one can predict how the pandemic will progress and whether there will be other waves of the virus. The Israeli strategy is based on the "vaccines only" rule and has claimed quite a few lives - unnecessarily.
Those who will choose to dwell on the past will find that we didn't always make the best choices throughout this pandemic, and we could have made decision that were for better for both our health and the economy.
Nevertheless, the attempt to put the economy on the same list of priorities as health is fundamentally wrong. Without health there is no economy. Human life also has economic value, and so does the heavy burden placed on the hospital system, quarantine for thousands of people and the mental stress that stems from it. Unfortunately, none of these issues get enough limelight in the public discourse.