Health Ministry Director To NYT: “Did Israelis Develop Herd Immunity? We’re Preparing 100,000 Tests To Find Out”


In an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said that Israel’s most important mission right now is to prepare for the next COVID-19 wave, especially a wave during the wintertime that would coincide with the flu season.

In order to best accomplish this mission, Bar Siman-Tov said that Israel is preparing 100,000 serological tests to evaluate whether Israelis have developed “herd immunity” and how vulnerable the population will be to a second wave of the virus.

The survey, which will be carried out at Kupat Cholim clinics – beginning in about a week or two – will be the largest such effort yet to determine the level of antibodies to COVID-19 in a country, according to the Times. Germany has also announced it is carrying out antibody testing by using a representative nationwide sample.

Bar Siman-Tov said that they “want to know the truth” of how many Israelis have developed antibodies to COVID-19. Current estimates vary from less than 1% to over 10%.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that is no evidence that people who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered or have antibodies to it are protected from contracting it again. The Israeli study could provide the evidence, the Times said, quoting Dr. Yair Schindel, a member of the Health Ministry coronavirus task force.

“Part of what we’re trying to achieve here is to answer the questions the WHO is raising,” Schindel said, adding that there is a potential pitfall that if the coronavirus mutates, the blood tests may not be able to identify it.

Bar Siman-Tov added that the ministry is planning on testing greater concentrations of subjects in cities that had major outbreaks such as Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. Healthcare workers will also be tested as a group.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. If yes, it would indicate two things. First, it would have been in spite of the lockdown, not due to the lockdown (a successful lockdown would have precluded “herd” immunity). Given that many Israelis have been trying to ignore the lockdown, this would not be a surprise.

    Second, given the relatively low number of “cases” and deaths, it would suggest the correct way to characterize Covid-19 would be as a disease that has little or no health impact for most people, though potentially deadly for a small percentage of those infected. This conclusion would suggest the draconian lockdowns were bad policy.

  2. And the part that they haven’t worked on yet is the actual amount of people that need to have the antibodies to be immune. It is 100% true that a percentage of people who have been exposed weren’t asymptomatic, rather they actually didn’t get it at all. Look at the Diamond Princess, 700 / 3711 were tested positive. And 18% that were tested positive had no symptoms.

    There’s a LOT left to be learned.