New coronavirus czar says pandemic could last another year

The new coronavirus czar, Prof. Nachman Ash, says it could take a full year until the coronavirus pandemic ends.

“It will take time. There are difficult days ahead…. It won’t be easy, it won’t be short. My working assumption is that the coronavirus will remain with us for the next year,” he says in his first press briefing.

An effective vaccination campaign of the population could, optimistically, end in mid-2021, but may only be completed “toward the end of next year,” he says.

He urges Israelis to prepare for another full year of life under pandemic restrictions.

Ash says the health authorities will start granting a “green passport” to Israelis who are less likely to be infected or transmit the virus, including those who have recovered from the disease. He says HMOs will start conducting antibody tests, with those who receive confirmation of antibodies granted the documentation. Ash doesn’t elaborate on what benefits those with a “green passport” will have.

He also says a third nationwide lockdown is possible.

The current figures are “worrisome,” he says, adding, “there is no room for complacency.”

With the reopening of more schools and malls, “there is likely to be a deterioration that will lead to a lockdown,” he says, adding that he won’t hesitate to take the step.

Israel’s coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash seen during a visit at the Jerusalem Municipality on November 22, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)