The Health Ministry said Thursday it would summon a doctor for a reprimand after she suggested that a man who allegedly murdered his wife last week did so as a result of psychosis induced by the coronavirus vaccine.
The woman, an obstetrician, made the comments during a discussion on a WhatsApp group with some 250 participants, Channel 12 News reported.
Members of the group were discussing the negative effects the coronavirus lockdowns have had on people, and at a certain point the conversation turned to the murder of Diana Raz (lockdowns have been blamed for exacerbating domestic tensions and violence).
The doctor, who works at Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center, then offered: “Regarding the murder yesterday, as strange as it may sound, there have been psychotic and neurological conditions as a result of the vaccine, this case is too strange.”
By many accounts, Raz’s relationship with her husband Amir Raz was, at least outwardly, a healthy one, prior to him allegedly stabbing and then shooting her dead during an argument. Raz has confessed and told investigators he could not explain his actions.
“A long relationship, described as loving and compassionate,” the doctor wrote, “and suddenly he doesn’t know what came over him and experiences a blackout.”
When other group participants expressed shock at her insinuation that the vaccine may have caused Raz to kill his wife, the doctor added: “Of course odds are it’s not. But it made me think of the possibility.”
Psychosis is not a known side effect of the vaccine, and has not been reported by any of the millions of Israelis who have already received their shots. Some rare neurological effects have been reported, but these have been physical, such as paresthesia, and not mental in nature.
The Health Ministry expressed outrage at the doctor’s suggestion.
“A physician without relevant training made miserable and bizarre comments,” a statement from the ministry said. “The claim is of course utterly false…the doctor will be summoned for an inquiry. Health workers are expected to be cautious of spreading fake news.”
The doctor herself told Channel 12 she was sorry for her comments, and asserted she had merely been hypothesizing and had been misunderstood, but did not explain how.
There has been rampant misinformation online surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, including baseless claims it may cause infertility and severa allergic reactions, and outlandish conspiracy theories the shots will actually be used to inject the world population with tracking chips.
Though Israel currently leads the world in vaccinations per capita, with over 3.7 million Israelis having received at least one of two shots, the pace of inoculation has slowed dramatically in recent days.
A senior official in the country’s largest health provider this week blamed online “fake news” for promoting vaccine skepticism.
“At the beginning of the [vaccination] campaign we got used to inoculating between 100,000 and 120,000 people per day, and in the last few days we are barely reaching half of those figures,” Kalanit Kaye, the manager of Clalit’s vaccination drive, told the Ynet news site.
“We are prepared, our centers are big and accessible, the process should be pretty simple on the whole, vaccines are being given for free, so I don’t understand the people who don’t come to get the shot. It’s a big mistake,” she lamented.
According to Channel 12 reports this week, as leisure activities are set to slowly return amid the massive vaccination drive, the government is considering heavily limiting access to those who do not vaccinate, in an effort to encourage them to get inoculated.
“Whoever doesn’t vaccinate will only go out to supermarkets or pharmacies, while the vaccinated will go to stadiums and gyms,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein was quoted as saying in closed conversations.
Edelstein said on Wednesday that he was considering proposing legislation that would enable employers to prevent workers who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus from coming in to work, and warned the rule would also apply to those in the education system.
He said that education workers who refuse the vaccine may have to pay for a virus test every 48 hours if they want to keep teaching.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted Thursday as telling cabinet ministers: “Whoever doesn’t vaccinate endangers us all, because they can cause the health system to collapse.”
Israel’s third nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 was eased on Sunday at 7 a.m. after over a month.
Thursday saw some schoolchildren return to classes in areas with low infection rates.