Doctors in Israel 'Angry' at COVID-19 Patients Who Refused Vaccination
A professor at one of Israel's leading hospitals claims the latest COVID panic in the Israeli media has been largely exaggerated. Although the country's hospitals do lack some equipment and medical staff, he says the teams are doing well, compared to previous waves of the pandemic.
In Israel, where the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, the situation continues to be alarming despite the fact that more than 3 out of 9 million citizens have been vaccinated with their third Pfizer shot.
On Sunday nearly 3,000 new coronavirus patients were registered, and although this number is much lower compared to what it was several weeks ago, when Israel saw more than 10,000 patients per day, Israeli experts warn that the situation is still alarming.
The reason for this, they say, is the relatively high number of severe cases. The way it stands now, there are nearly 700 such patients across Israel, a large number even compared to the previous waves. 280 of them are in critical condition, with 25 connected to respiratory machines.
Lack of Equipment?
The problem is that those machines seem to be a commodity in Israel.
They have been saying that the hospitals are packed with people, that local doctors need to make a tough choice of who to connect to the ECMO machines and that other essential equipment was running out.
No Need to Panic
But Prof Arnon Afek, the acting Director of Sheba Medical Centre in central Israel, says the national healthcare system is prepared for dealing with COVID.
"Israel has a very good health system," he said referring to the 2015 list released by Bloomberg that ranked the Jewish state sixth in the world in terms of healthcare system efficiency.
"Of course we have some disadvantages, like, for example, that we do not have enough acute care beds, but we are coping well," he added.
Since the outbreak of the virus in February 2020, Israel has made sure to boost its supply of medical equipment. It purchased more medical beds, including those intended for intensive care patients.
It also increased its number of ECMO machines, with the country now boasting some 80 units, a number that's higher than what many other developed nations have.
It has also purchased 16,000 ventilators, forking out more than $300,000 on the deal.
However, purchasing pricey equipment did not solve all the problems. Medical teams, who have been working round the clock since the outbreak of the virus, are now saying they’ll collapse if more resources are not allocated to hospitals.
In early September, thousands of them protested in front of the Ministry of Health, demanding that the government enrich their depleted financial and human resources.
Although Afek admits that Israel is in dire need of more medical staff and positions, he maintains that teams are doing "wonderfully" and that they are coping extremely well, compared to previous waves, when they were collapsing under pressure.
"Now we have a different issue we are coping with," he says.
"70 percent of patients, who are now in critical condition, have never been vaccinated. Of course, we treat all of them, but the anger of my teams is mounting and many find it morally challenging to treat those, who didn't care to get a jab."
Afek says he and his team will continue to do their job and continue to exert efforts to convince the anti-vaxxers, whose number in Israel stands at around one million people, that getting vaccinated is the right way forward.
But as the number of critical patients continues to rise, and with the government still reluctant to shut down the country, the professor admits that that job is becoming "more and more difficult".