Story By: Lisa-Maria Goertz, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A ‘Rabbi to the famous’ has been blamed for the sudden drop in COVID-19 vaccinations in Israel after sharing concerns about the possible side effects.
Yuval Hacohen Asherov, a Rabbi known for advising numerous national celebrities, has been criticised for claiming that the vaccine could damage the immune system and even cause death.
Asherov said in one video: “There are fears that the coronavirus vaccine can be fatal, cause infertility… and cause severe allergies that can be fatal… Scientists are saying this. It’s not me who’s saying this.
“The coronavirus vaccine has not undergone any of the routine scientific testing carried out on all other vaccines. That’s the first thing. And what’s happening now is that they’re trying it out on millions of people. This is the trial. Now is the trial. They’re injecting us with it.”
Igor Ulitsky, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, has refuted the claims, saying that the vaccines were developed quickly because of the vast amount of resources allocated to making them.
According to The Times of Israel, videos like those of Asherov are being blamed for the slowing of vaccinations in the country.
The manager of Clalit’s vaccination drive, Kalanit Kaye, told news site Ynet: “At the beginning of the 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 those figures.”
However, the Rabbi remains firm in his position and said: “Nobody has shown me any reason to change what I’ve said… All I’ve said is that it’s worth waiting a little. Why hurry when there are doubts?”
Facebook has since announced that they have removed a group with 14,000 members called ‘No Green Passport’ in protest at a document allowing people to travel and go to events without quarantining.
The group was removed after the Ministry of Health reportedly asked the social media giant to censor ‘anti-vax’ allegations and what they deem to be fake news.
One group post reportedly urged others to make an appointment for a jab and then cancel it so that they would have to throw out the unused medication, an incident which might lead to a criminal investigation according to a police source.
One of the admins of the Facebook page, Tamila Nazarov, told news station Channel 12 that those who have not been vaccinated are treated like second-class citizens.
She said: “I’m not preventing anyone else from being vaccinated. Whoever wants to get vaccinated should get vaccinated. We’re not coronavirus deniers and we’re not conspiracy theorists.
“It’s illegal for people to be threatened with dismissal from their jobs because they don’t want to get vaccinated. These are our rights.”
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called those trying to disrupt the vaccination programme “a dangerous group who are ideologically opposed, like a cult”.
Israel has reportedly vaccinated almost 3.5 million people with the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and just over 2 million have received the second.
According to recent figures from the Health Ministry, there have been 5,121 COVID-related deaths in Israel.
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