‘Nothing can justify this destruction of people’s lives’

Yoram Lass, former director of Israel’s Health Ministry, on the hysteria around Covid-19.

spiked

Countries across the world have been in lockdown for months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The costs of the policy are enormous – in terms of life, liberty and the economy. But is it worth it to save lives? Yoram Lass was once the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Health. Lass is a staunch critic of the lockdown policy adopted in his native Israel and around the world. He has described our response to Covid-19 as a form of hysteria. spiked caught up with him to find out more.

spiked: You have described the global response to coronavirus as hysteria. Can you explain that?

Yoram Lass: It is the first epidemic in history which is accompanied by another epidemic – the virus of the social networks. These new media have brainwashed entire populations. What you get is fear and anxiety, and an inability to look at real data. And therefore you have all the ingredients for monstrous hysteria.

It is what is known in science as positive feedback or a snowball effect. The government is afraid of its constituents. Therefore, it implements draconian measures. The constituents look at the draconian measures and become even more hysterical. They feed each other and the snowball becomes larger and larger until you reach irrational territory. This is nothing more than a flu epidemic if you care to look at the numbers and the data, but people who are in a state of anxiety are blind. If I were making the decisions, I would try to give people the real numbers. And I would never destroy my country.

spiked: What do the numbers tell us, in your view?

Lass: Mortality due to coronavirus is a fake number. Most people are not dying from coronavirus. Those recording deaths simply change the label. If patients died from leukaemia, from metastatic cancer, from cardiovascular disease or from dementia, they put coronavirus. Also, the number of infected people is fake, because it depends on the number of tests. The more tests you do the more infected people you get.

The only real number is the total number of deaths – all causes of death, not just coronavirus. If you look at those numbers, you will see that every winter we get what is called an excess death rate. That is, during the winter more people die compared to the average, due to regular, seasonal flu epidemics, which nobody cares about. If you look at the coronavirus wave on a graph, you will see that it looks like a spike. Coronavirus comes very fast, but it also goes away very fast. The influenza wave is shallow as it takes three months to pass, but coronavirus takes one month. If you count the number of people who die in terms of excess mortality – which is the area under the curve – you will see that during the coronavirus season, we have had an excess mortality which is about 15 per cent larger than the epidemic of regular flu in 2017.

Compared to that rise, the draconian measures are of biblical proportions. Hundreds of millions of people are suffering. In developing countries many will die from starvation. In developed countries many will die from unemployment. Unemployment is mortality. More people will die from the measures than from the virus. And the people who die from the measures are the breadwinners. They are younger. Among the people who die from coronavirus, the median age is often higher than the life expectancy of the population. What has been done is not proportionate. But people are afraid. People are brainwashed. They do not listen to the data. And that includes governments.

spiked: Do the lockdowns have any positive effect on people’s safety?

Lass: Any reasonable expert – that is, anyone but Professor Ferguson from Imperial College who would have locked down everybody when we had swine flu – will tell you that lockdown cannot change the final number of infected people. It can only change the rate of infection. And people argue that by changing the rate of infection and ‘flattening the curve’, we prevented the collapse of hospitals. I have shown you the costs of lockdown, but this was the argument in favour of it. But look at Sweden. No lockdown and no collapse of hospitals. The argument for the lockdown collapses.

spiked: Why have some countries suffered so much more than others from Covid-19?

Lass: For example, you can compare Italy to Israel. In the Middle East, this virus is not really working. There are two reasons. One is that there is a very young population, and the other is that the climate is different. In the latitude of 50 degrees, which is Europe, and 40, which is the north-eastern United States, the virus is much more viable. Italy has the oldest population in the world apart from Japan. Italians are also are heavy smokers and very social people – they keep hugging and kissing. If you look at the numbers, in 2017, 25,000 Italians died from flu complications. Now you have around 30,000 dying from coronavirus. So it is a comparable number. You should not ruin a country for comparable numbers.

spiked: What has it been like in Israel?

Lass: In Israel, we have two layers of fear. The hysteria is similar to the rest of the world. However, we have a prime minister who has been resuscitated by coronavirus by adding another layer of fear. I do not think there is any other prime minister who has spoken about coronavirus in terms of the medieval Black Death, the Holocaust and the end of humanity in this way. Did Boris Johnson mention the Black Death? I do not think so. That is the special situation in Israel.

spiked: How does coronavirus compare to past pandemics?

Lass: If you look at the 1950s, we had the Asian flu. In the 1960s, there was the Hong Kong flu. These were worse than this pandemic. Also, look at the story of swine flu in 2009, which began exactly the same as coronavirus. A new virus originated in Mexico. There was no vaccine so it was very frightening. It spread all over the world. It infected one billion people. A quarter of a million people died. But there was no lockdown, no Ferguson, nothing – people were far more interested in the economic crisis that hit a year before in 2008. They did not have time to give attention to this nonsense.

spiked: Will the pandemic be over soon?

Lass: The virus, like the influenza virus, is saying farewell to western Europe for sure. The same in the Middle East. In the United States, we do not know yet, so we should talk in a month from now. But nothing can justify this destruction of people’s lives. It is unbelievable.

Yoram Lass was talking to Fraser Myers.

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Comments

Ron S

26th May 2020 at 2:32 pm

This character is an absolute charlatan!
I live in Israel and follow his clownlike appearances in the media.
At first, he claimed the virus will not even get out of China, so there is no need for any safety measures at all. after he insisted that it is not Sever then seasonal flu and so on.
he never gave any explanation to the spike in general mortality rate, where covid19 strike, as it does not sit with his claim of altering the cause of death to COVID 19.

Kemo Sabe

27th May 2020 at 7:15 am

As he pointed out, “safety measures” don’t alter the final number infected.

Temporary spiking of general mortality and mis-recording of deaths as Covid are not mutually exclusive. There is also a documented drop in mortality from other causes in the same timeframe as that spiking in US data, which one would expect from mis-recording.

Seasonal flu can kill up to 650,000 annually; he’s correct that this event is within the same range. No charlatan here, rather someone being clear and honest about the facts.

Shelley Alvarez

29th May 2020 at 2:28 am

If this character is a charlatan, is the PM who talks about the Black Death and imposes a medieval quarantine (imitating the Chinese police state just like the rest of the so called Free World) a sensible man?

Let’s look at the data that the “charlatans” from the “Istituto Superiore di Sanità” of the Italian National Health Service have published here:
https://www.epicentro.iss.it/en/coronavirus/bollettino/Report-COVID-2019_21_may_2020.pdf

“Mean age of patients dying for SARS-CoV-2 infection was 80 years” (31,096 deaths recorded to May 21st 2020). Based on a sample of 3,032 patients dying in-hospital: 59.6% had 3 or more comorbidities, 21.4% had 2; only 4.1 % had none. The diseases are listed as: Ischemic heart disease, Atrial fibrillation, Heart failure, Stroke, Hypertension, Type 2-Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Active cancer, Chronic liver disease, Chronic renal failure…

And this is no new info at all: “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” said Professor Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health. (The Telegraph, March 23rd).

So it really seems the world has gone hysterical over this pandemic. It’s a very harmful and dangerous situation.

Doly Garcia

25th May 2020 at 2:02 pm

Israeli operatives have a reputation for lots of things, being truthful sources free of propaganda is not one of them. But let’s leave that aside.

The social media explanation for the reaction of governments doesn’t hold any water. China, the first country that had the virus, had a serious crackdown on social media. It’s also a country that ended up having some of the most restrictive measures. Was it because of social media? Of course not! They had that controlled.

The story about “changing the labels” of what people died from doesn’t hold any water either, because the numbers say that an awful lot more people died than they usually do this time of the year. This is true even in countries with little or no restrictions, like Brazil. So you can’t claim that the lockdowns killed those people.

Sweden, that keeps getting talked about, may not have a hard lockdown, but it certainly has social distancing restrictions and the police will enforce them. So you can say that softer measures are better in your opinion, but you can’t use Sweden to argue against any measures at all.

So, with this information, does this man look like he’s interested in spreading the truth or in confusing propaganda?

Ron S

26th May 2020 at 2:46 pm

well said.
this guy knew “Everything” from day one. and as his predictions have grown further from reality he started making up basic facts to keep face.

Dan Under

29th May 2020 at 10:50 pm

Doly G, hoisting the rainbow swastika gives your game away. As for the hand waving, ‘the numbers say that an awful lot more people died than they usually do this time of the year’ let’s see the comparative data, after the current nonsense masquerading as data is adjusted and corrected for intentional distortion. 15% more than the usual number seen in a ‘flu epidemic (2017) is not ‘an awful lot more’ particularly when the COD is, for the majority, routinely and intentionally confounded by comorbidity, and then attributed to a singular novel virus causation. Lock down has made matters massively far worse and downstream, the sequelae appear socioeconomically devastating. Dr Yoram Lass underscores those points. You may also recall Dr Bruce Aylward of the UN WHO spouting about coming for your children, removing family members from close domiciled lockdown confinement imposed by the State where intrafamily spread was thought rampant. The subject of discussion here is not about the established and effective measures of social distancing, PPE, protection of vulnerable groups, track/tracing & isolation, and widespread random population testing. It is about the murderous devastation and failure of penal-like constraint.

Tim McMurphy

25th May 2020 at 4:30 am

“total deaths” – Bang on! So here are the stats for the USA week 1 to 16:

For 2020 the USA has an “excess death” rate about 5.5% (50,331) higher than the previous 4 year average for weeks 1 to 16. As a comparison I checked the first 16 weeks of 2018 compared to the previous 4 year average and it was 7.2% (63,260).

The script and all related files are here if you want to kick the tires:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fh9x5fngmfbeiiu/AAAH-OtOMqiY_R9qqG6YccCRa?dl=0

As of 2020-05-22 the CDC data has North Carolina missing week 16 for 2020. The rest of the states are complete.

KATHLEEN CARR

24th May 2020 at 12:28 pm

As the reaction to this virus has been universal , it would seem that it was an opportunity to enact things and those who have suffered have been collateral. The most obvious is moving office workers to home , which is only possible with internet and phone. All the support systems to get them to work are no longer necessary , which includes transport and then additional food providers. As a lot of department stores were already closing this leaves town centres free for re-development-possibly housing or creating university city areas? The idea of a virus used malevolently has been the stuff of fiction and films for decades ie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service , so presumably there must have been some contingency plans in case it happened. Perhaps this is organized chaos to see how the systems work?

Mike Coops

24th May 2020 at 12:18 pm

Good article however the negativity of the media will continue spewing doom and gloom. Keep your head up people don’t let them grind you down.

Jonathan Castro

22nd May 2020 at 9:32 pm

All of us with a functioning rubbish detector knew this lock-down was rubbish from day one.
With quarantining of the ill at airports from January, along with self-isolation for a couple of weeks for those displaying symptoms, it could all have been so different.
The backlash will be immense.

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 9:12 pm

“No 10 hints London’s lockdown could be lifted first”.

How are they gonna do that then?

Presumably, because of their idiotic new quarantine laws, are they going to have to quarantine people coming into town from Essex or whatever?

Hopefully, they’ll open the pitchfork and rope shops first.

Valentina Nor

22nd May 2020 at 8:40 pm

Priti Patel is just about to make an announcement about the new quarantine regulations, which should cement the idea in a lot of people’s heads that most of these problems could be sorted out with a length of rope.

James Knight

22nd May 2020 at 6:03 pm

The lockdown was meant to save lives indirectly by preventing the hospitals being over run. But hospitals have not been over-run, the exact opposite as many are half empty. The lockdowns are therefore likely to be causing indirect deaths rather than preventing them. In short they have backfired.

Compare the lockdowns to the approach taken with new drugs. Evidence based medicine requires rigorous assessment of the drug, including potential adverse effects and cost. Was this approach ever taken with lockdowns? Where is the NICE evaluation of this prescription for the entire population?

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 4:55 pm

Priti Patel is just about to make an announcement about the new quarantine regulations, which should cement the idea in a lot of people’s heads that most of these problems could be sorted out with a length of rope.

Mike Oliver

22nd May 2020 at 2:59 pm

Snowball effect? Shouldn’t that be snowflake effect?

Mark Houghton

22nd May 2020 at 2:09 pm

My daughter supports the lockdown – which in all probability will lead to her losing her job in a couple of weeks time yet the risk to her of this virus is bugger all. Due to my prepper mentality I’ll probably be OK but I am so incredibly angry thinking of the millions of people who will really suffer due to this unnecessary lockdown – as an historian I can’t think of a bigger cock up by UK politicians in our history. If the public ever manage to put two and two together there’s going to be unrest.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 3:27 pm

Active resistance against this stupid, incompetent, cowardly and hypocritical government would be the right thing to do. These buffoons are taking away our jobs and freedoms in order to cover their own tracks. We must resist and send these Tory fascists packing. And where is that liar Johnson hiding?

LIVE FREE OR DIE

Mark Houghton

22nd May 2020 at 4:39 pm

I already resist. I earn so little that my contribution to the treasury coffers is pretty much zero – I for one don’t want to keep this show on the road.

Linda Payne

23rd May 2020 at 5:40 am

Same here, we both live off our small pensions less than 600 a month in total, and to think there are people even worse off than this

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

23rd May 2020 at 11:50 am

LINDA PAYNE — I’m very sorry that you have been betrayed by the British government after a lifetime of paying taxes. The UK has just about the smallest pensions in the developed world.

Jerry Owen

24th May 2020 at 2:04 pm

God.. you’re so tedious!

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 12:45 pm

Superb article. A pathetic, hysterical populace and incompetent, cowardly government in hoc to hysterical media produces the worst fascism seen in this country in modern times. And where is Johnson in all this – having yet another affair or hiding in the toilet? I’m sorry, but even that bonehead Marxist Corbyn would have done better than this.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 12:48 pm

ZP
How would Corbyn have done a better job?

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 1:53 pm

A blind chimpanzee, or Jerry Owen, would have done a better job than serial philanderer and proven liar and incompetent Johnson.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 4:19 pm

ZP
In other words you don’t have a clue.. no surprise there!

Glenn Jones

23rd May 2020 at 11:20 am

Could he possibly have done any worse?

Iwan Hughes

22nd May 2020 at 12:34 pm

“Time for Johnson to grow a pair and admit a massive policy error. Get the country back to work.”

That would be nice, but it would also need the news media to behave with some generosity and restraint towards this sort of openness. And pigs might fly.

Mor Vir

22nd May 2020 at 1:10 pm

TP has created the worst economic crisis in history, and it really cannot play the hostile media card. Most of the UK press is sectarian TP, anyway. TP needs to own its policies, all of them, and stop trying to hide in the toilets or behind media petticoats.

jamie murray

22nd May 2020 at 11:10 am

As many others on this site have already said, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is the lack of critical thinking from the vast majority of people and also lack of backbone and fortitude from the public in general. There must be a large minority of people like myself who have had doubts about the extent of this lockdown and attendant procedures from the very beginning, this is not being wise with hindsight, i am instinctively suspicious of anything which unites the ruling classes/establishment/media in such a way without a hint of dissent and i had the same attitude with this latest “crisis”. There must be someone influential in government or media who knows this is so out of proportion as to be unbelievable, why has no one the guts to go on record and say so, what’s the agenda behind this?
Credit to Spiked and some brave lone individuals such as the Mr Lass for offering a different perspective.

Stephen J

22nd May 2020 at 10:12 am

Wise words.

R E

22nd May 2020 at 9:48 am

The virus has been a great example of how people have been trained not think logically and debate issues over the last couple of decades. We have locked down 100% of the population, while failing to protect the 20% of those who are genuinely at risk because of underlying conditions and age.
We should have put a ring of steel round the 20%, almost all who do not work anyway, and let the 80% work and keep the economy going. By having the economy moving at full speed it would have given us the resources to lock down the 20% properly, deliver food and essential medicines, test care homes and those working there for CV19. Also the NHS could have used their excess capacity to have wards for CV19 patients, who were not seriously ill, but who we did not want to return to care homes where it could spread to other people.
90% of the people support the lock down despite the lack of logic behind it, they seem unwilling to think about it logically or face up to the economic impact of the lockdown. The government now is ‘locked’ into the lockdown, where it is easier to be wrong with the majority, than admit mistakes and release the lockdown as soon as possible. Meanwhile, from seeing how the public conduct themselves in the street/shops and what they say in the comments of various news sites, are terrified – they treat CV19 like it has a fatality rate of 10% not the reality of 0.1% or even less.

Mark Houghton

22nd May 2020 at 10:14 am

Excellent comment and I agree totally. What really saddens me is that such views should be discussed in the MSM but they have all lost their collective minds to this hysteria. My daughter will probably lose her job because of this insane over-reaction. I do voluntary work which brings me into contact with people with mental health issues and this crisis is causing such people untold anguish and anxiety.

Gerard Barry

23rd May 2020 at 1:53 pm

I hear you about mental health. My anxiety level has gone through the roof over the past few months. I had issues before but this has made everything worse – the limitation of my social life, the constant bad news in the media, my fears over the authoritarian turn governments all over the world took, etc. Thankfully, things are getting back to normal here in Germany-

David Margison

22nd May 2020 at 10:32 am

I fully agree with the article and this excellent comment

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 12:51 pm

R E
It has got to the stage where responsible professors are actually having their content removed from You Tube if they question ‘conventional wisdom’ on the virus.
Are we much freer than the Chinese?

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 1:54 pm

When are you going to tell us your real name, Jerry, you Spitfire Nationalist halfwit.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 4:21 pm

ZP
Don’t assume that just because you’re an anonymous fake others are just as cowardly.

Question Everythin

23rd May 2020 at 3:03 am

I live next door to a couple with 3 children, 2 of the children have cystic fibrosis, one of the children has recently developed an infection she regularly develops due to her disease, her feeding tube needs changing, she’s overdue her checkup to see if she needs her lungs cleaning, shes missing vital checkups on other issues due to her disease. Her mum rant the hospital about the infection she had, actually worried it was covid, in normal times they’d tell them to get in the car there’s a bed waiting get here there NOW, during lockdown she was told they’d simply prescribe the antibiotics she’s had before because they think it sounds like the infection she’s had before, as for her feeding tube they’ll send the nurse out to do it… because that’s safer apparently than seperating the two kids with cystic fibrosis by having one taken to hospital, to stop the transmission of infection between them, to reduce the chances of BOTH being exposed to someone who could possibly be carrying covid…and despite the fact the treatments she’s needs right now would likely mean she’d be in hospital for a good week if not longer and the fact it would then give the family time to relocate either one of the children from the family home with one parent and the healthy child, or at the very least give them time to come up with a solution to keep the two apart once the child in hospital is released.
These children are 6 and 3, is it morally right that we are still in lockdown to the extent the NHS is still NOT running day to day duties for people and especially children with other serious diseases that seem to have vanished from peoples minds, to stop a virus that unfortunately overwhelming targets the elderly?
Is it morally and ethically right that there will be thousands upon thousands of children with other serious diseases and their families stuck in the same position as my neighbors? Who now have to be parent, teacher, doctor and nurse?
How many of the 76% drop in cancer referrals are children? Again is it right to put their health and future, their lives on the line, putting them at great risk, to save elderly people?
Before anyone bites my head off I’d like you to think about whom if you, your child and your husband/wife/whatever where in a serious car crash, in a situation were the fire crews have to get all 3 of you out in 20 mins to save your lives, but they know they cannot do so in 20, theyd need another ten mins to get all 3 of you out, would you say save me sod my child? Or would you say get leave me take my child? Would you say save my husband/wife not me, save them not me? If you and your young niece/nephew needed blood transfusions, you both have the same rare blood type and there’s only enough for one of you, who would you want to have it? You or young niece/nephew?
These hypothetical situations are the exact situation we are in as a society, we have to choose, and no matter what we choose people are going to die, do we protect the young? Or do we protect the elderly? Do we save the young kids with cancer or the elderly with covid 19 and other pre existing conditions?
Which is ethically and morally right?
We have to decide and we all have to start thinking about this situation in this frame of mind, we can’t stop death, but we can delay it, who’s deaths are we going to prolong?
Also note the economic argument ties right back into the above given the economic fallout from the lockdown could do what the lockdown was meant to stop, destroy the NHS, if that were to happen was it the right thing to do, to protect the elderly at an extreme cost that will affect children, babies, for years to come?
Every other generation knew the answer this question immediately, children come first, protect the young, even it means some of the elderly must lose their lives…hell even if it means middle age, young adults lose their lives, children have always been protected first and foremost. Always…up until now.

Bella Donna

22nd May 2020 at 9:45 am

I was going to upload a link about him and you had already done an interview with him. Well done!

NEIL DATSON

22nd May 2020 at 7:44 am

Thanks for another good article on this subject. There’s also an interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta here:

https://unherd.com/2020/05/oxford-doubles-down-sunetra-gupta-interview/

One quotation: “Remaining in a state of lockdown is extremely dangerous from the point of view of the vulnerability of the entire population to new pathogens. Effectively we used to live in a state approximating lockdown 100 years ago, and that was what created the conditions for the Spanish Flu to come in and kill 50m people.”

Time for Johnson to grow a pair and admit a massive policy error. Get the country back to work.

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