by UnHerd Staff
Tuesday, 18
January 2022
Video
16:13

Israeli vaccine advisor: “We have made mistakes”

Professor Cyrille Cohen talks herd immunity and his pandemic regrets
by UnHerd Staff

Professor Cyrille Cohen is head of Immunology at Bar Ilan University and a member of the advisory committee for vaccines for the Israeli Government. In a wide-ranging and forthright interview, the Professor tells Freddie Sayers:

  • The Green Pass / vaccine passport concept is no longer relevant in the Omicron era and should be phased out (he expects it to be in short order in Israel)
  • He and his colleagues were surprised and disappointed that the vaccines did not prevent transmission, as they had originally hoped
  • The biggest mistake of the pandemic in Israel was closing schools and education
  • Widespread infection is now an inevitable part of future immunity — otherwise known as herd immunity
  • Omicron has accelerated the pandemic into the endemic phase, in which Covid will be “like flu”

KEY QUOTES

Especially with Omicron, where we don’t see virtually any difference, there is a very narrow gap between people vaccinated and non-vaccinated, both can get infected with a virus, more or less at the same pace.
- Cyrille Cohen, UnHerdTV

On the behavioural science behind the Green Pass:

On the risks and rewards of herd immunity:

Herd immunity is a consequence for me. It’s not an objective, it’s not a goal. There is a thin nuance here, if I may say, that people have to grasp. I’m not saying to people go and get infected, I don’t think that this is a model that we need to adopt.
- Cyrille Cohen, UnHerdTV

On Israeli school closures:

There is one mistake, I think that we made, and that I’m extremely sorry for that. We have made a few mistakes, but it was education. For me education was the thing we shouldn’t have touched. Never, never.
- Cyrille Cohen, UnHerdTV

On the acceleration from pandemic to endemic:

I think it’s going to be like flu, I think there is going to be bad waves and better waves, with a better immunity at the level of the population, with better vaccines with better treatment. In that sense, and I’m extremely cautious, there is a possibility that Omicron will accelerate that transition.
- Cyrille Cohen, UnHerdTV

On vaccine mandates:

I think that vaccination is a personal choice. And I always said, I believe it is so. But that choice has some consequences. And here, there is a problem in society. If you are over 50, 60, and you’re saying I don’t want to get vaccinated, will you be, and I’m gonna ask a provocative question, will you be willing to renounce on the possibility of getting taken care of in hospitals?
- Cyrille Cohen, UnHerdTV

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Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
5 months ago

Another excellent interview ‘scoop’, thank you Freddie, one of many that have punctuated the Covid fiasco (beginning with Prof Johann Giesecke back in April 2020, my introduction to Unherd).

All credit to the professor for the having the honesty and humility to reflect on perceived failures of the Israeli national vaccine programme, for which he was partly responsible. And very encouraging that he states clearly that he thinks vaccine passports should be abandoned

Last edited 5 months ago by Adam Bacon
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bacon

Scoop, Evelyn Waugh. ““Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.””
Great literary reference, one I think of whenever some Journalism is being done…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

Interesting – and well done Freddie on many of your incisive, probing questions which represent the views of people who are questioning the alarming trend in which the world is travelling – especially around vaccine mandates and passports.
I particularly liked the way in which you did not allow the issue of triaging to only be centred around potentially refusing the unvaccinated treatment. This is illogical and has to then involve other people who make life choices that might necessitate medical treatment.
I think Professor Cohen did quite well… especially as we all know he has other masters to answer to. As always it is political.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
5 months ago

Israel made the same mistake as the UK. They equated positive tests to cases and did not test randomly. They tested 1 in 6 of the vaccinated and tested every unvaccinated person twice, so they found most of cases to be in the unvaccinated. Then they celebrated because they thought the vaccines were working and of course wanted to force vaccines on those who did not want them.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I would add nearly every study had a short time line. The CDC study used to verify immunity was done dec 2020 to April 2021. That is the study the cdc used to get fda approval for Comirnaty. As the study clearly did not reflect reality why have they not removed their approval? During that time most people were still unvaccinated and they rode that winter wave down. Counting people as unvaccinated until two weeks after they had two doses also scewed results as the vaccines appear to suppress the immune system the first week after the first dose.

https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/the-government-of-alberta-says-you/comments

Last edited 5 months ago by Dennis Boylon
Ben Webster
Ben Webster
5 months ago
  • Very informative as usual with the usual deftly put, penetrating questions aimed at unlocking the truth. But, could you say something about Professor Ehud Qimron, head of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University, who recently sent a letter to the Israeli Ministry of Health that “it’s time to admit failure.” The last sentence of his open letter(with over 5 million views) reads, “This emergency must stop.”
stephen archer
stephen archer
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben Webster

Thanks for the info. The letter is a very powerful and incisive highlighting of grave mistakes and misjudgements which could just as well be addressed to a number of European governments (UK, Austria, Italy for a start) and their advisers.

Last edited 5 months ago by stephen archer
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben Webster

This letter is a must read for everyone.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

scroll to minute 9:30, and watch a fun bit, one which says a lot about these vax-pushers hypocrisy. Freddy is mentioning the insane covid response, current in Europe, extreme Lockdowns, Mandates, vax Passports – not getting the vax is even being made illegal… and asks the Doctor what he thinks of that. The good Doctor replies:

Well, you, know its a Free World…’ Hahahaaa. What he is Meaning by those words is every nation is Free to be as Tyrannical to their citizens as they wish to be. (thus That Freedom on an Individual level is non-existent, that it is no inalienable right to Freedom – just what your Government wished to give you, (Orwellian new-speak so deep in him he cannot hear it).) That the citizen may lose every scrap of freedom, and it’s up each government to decide. Spoken like a true VAXing Maniac.

Next I hope Freddy interviews Fauci and asks him to tell us his thoughts on how the Vax is.

Anyway – this guy is backpedaling fast. When he gave the old triage theory of the unvaxed being left on a trolly in the hall so a vaxed can fill the ER bed we got a whiff of the old ‘Mask/Mandate/Vax school of thought – but he also said locking the schools was a Huge Mistake, so reality is seeping in.

If a ‘Conservative is a Liberal who was Mugged by Reality‘ Then its good to see these Lockdown/vax tyrants cooling it – as they have been mugged by the reality they unleashed on the world.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I too noticed the ‘free world’ comment. It was very jarring.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

How is it where you are Lesley? Here it is a lovely night, almost warm, full moon lighting all the woods and marsh up clearly – I have been walking with the dogs, through the forest to some land in the woods I just had cleared, it is magical out in the forest, utterly without any sign of man, exceedingly beautiful. It was amazing how they cleared it – they had a CAT with a 6 foot wide, massive, spinning, bar with large steel cutting teeth on it – and it just rolls up to a tree, and eats through it – Big trees, I had pines about 70 foot tall, Massive ones, and a great many small ones and brush – it just ground it all up to wood chips – the really big tree trunks they just shoved into the woods around, to rot over the years, everything else mulched and left instead of going to a dump. The whole cleared land is 6 inches deep in spongy wood chips. Next they dig a swimming pond, 70 ft X 35 ft X 10 ft deep and use the dirt to raise the ground, it is very low – not wetlands, but always flooding. I cannot imagine living in a city – the covid lockdowns – I could not have done it, I would have ended up in jail.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
5 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes. That was disturbing. It made me shudder

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
5 months ago

I appreciate the doctors candor. In Canada they have admited to nothing. They have stopped talking about the unvaxxed filling the hospitals. Because now its the vaxxed doing the overwhelming. But if anything, they have dbl downed on the vax passport. They seem to be determined to fulfill that recurring authoritarian wet dream fantasy.

rodney foy
rodney foy
5 months ago

A very likeable guy who said a lot of interesting and nuanced things. However, I fear that many of us will take snippets from this to support our preconceived ideas

J Bryant
J Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Great comment. The power of this interview, imo, is the balance and nuance. Prof. Cohen acknowledged policy mistakes in education–fair enough. Nobody can expect advisors to be infallible in a fast changing situation.
His comments about the green pass recognized that, in one regard, they’re not necessary because the vaccinated can be infected and infectious like the unvaccinated. But he is also clearly a proponent of vaccines because they are good at preventing severe disease. So I sense a grudging approval of green passes as a tool to encourage/coerce vaccination.
I also liked his emphasis on the fact that the virus will probably be with us forever and some years will be bad and some better (like the flu), and that we can’t predict exactly what will happen so we have to keep all options open.
A very encouraging and candid interview (kudos to the professor and to Freddie) but I feel it must be taken as a whole.

rodney foy
rodney foy
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with your take on it.

I was surprised that he admitted that green passes were a form of coercion, which was very honest.

There’s so much to comment on

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago
Reply to  rodney foy

“I was surprised that he admitted that green passes were a form of coercion,”

That Natural Immunity was not accepted in a great many Nations PROVED coercion was all they were, that it was nothing to do with health. Remember the Hawthorn book ‘The Scarlet Letter’ where the adulterous woman is made to wear the letter so all may know her shame and scorn her? Bit of history being repeated.

alex CK
alex CK
5 months ago

Outstanding and thank you Freddie for doing all this work – this is what journalists need to be doing. Not taking the “party line” but actually digging in, asking difficult questions, looking at all authority with a skeptical eye and getting to the truth.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago
Reply to  alex CK

Freddy forgot the BIG one to ask and Israeli – Why did the Palestinian communities all around, with great vax-hesitance in them, not all die, but rather did about the same.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
5 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes. He seemed to imply the vaccine had some effectiveness before omnicron. The data manipulation in the USA is particularly bad. The ONS is actually better. You can acually dig out all cause mortality between vaxxed and unvaxxed. The vaccines clearly did not help

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago

So – what are the lessons ? Thinking at the beginning in April/May 2020, I thought: Vaccination- then immunity, either natural or vaccinated – then, it’s like flu. First Lesson: Scientists often don’t know and should not pretend they do know. Put another way: scientists must resist the temptation to play God. Of the tens of interviews of scientists I have watched since COVID started, how many admitted they didn’t have a clue ? Yes, it’s zero. Second Lesson: Use Common Sense. Don’t “Follow the Science” which is only a political way of blaming everything bad that happens on someone else. Third: Stay Calm and Rational, Don’t Over-React. Closing schools was a wild over-reaction.

Last edited 5 months ago by Giles Chance
Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
5 months ago

Closing schools is “the one mistake” that a state founded as a safe haven for a politically persecuted minority made? And the persecution of a minority for political reasons by that very state wasn’t also a mistake?

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
5 months ago

One mistake? He admits to several. i’m thankful he did the interview but the arrogance of the man is simply frightening. If people don’t do what you say the medical establishment may choose to not treat you? People like this don’t belong in this profession. As an older (over 50) electrical engineer if the government decides to not let me use services will they refund my tax money for the last 25 years? I thought I had to pay all that money because of the “social contract” I never signed up for.

Last edited 5 months ago by Dennis Boylon
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
5 months ago

Scary that such people advise governments….he says he is a scientists and ….. and in this interview talks nearly only politics…

Unherd Person
Unherd Person
5 months ago

This man admitted this has been one giant experiment.
Though it has failed, disasterously, he wants to keep experimenting with us, his little Petri dish of wonder.
Scientists need reigning in, promptly.

Steve Bouchard
Steve Bouchard
5 months ago

I wish Freddie had asked the question about using Ivermectin, HCQ and other repurposed drugs in the early stages vs. wait and see how long it takes before you have to go to the hospital.

Last edited 5 months ago by Steve Bouchard
Deborah H
Deborah H
5 months ago

Why 50 or 60? Immunity doesn’t really start to wane in people until about 60. Most deaths were 70-80 year olds. And some people’s biological age might be 50 but they are in great health while a 40 year old has 3 co-morbidities. Why no consequences for people with life-style disease who get Covid who are younger than 50/60? This is a poor guidepost for creating regulations.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
5 months ago

Did the guy actually say anything definitive? If he did I missed it! Just a load of ifs and maybes couched in caveats masquerading as expertise.

Michael Sweeney
Michael Sweeney
5 months ago

This article deserves a more thoughtful response on the open questions. Ran out of time…

Last edited 5 months ago by Michael Sweeney
Deborah H
Deborah H
5 months ago

A stretch to compare Italy’s Covid regulations to China’s. Comparing a Democracy to a Communist country.

cicavilhena
cicavilhena
5 months ago

The best of Freddie´s questions: Wouldn’t that be a dangerous path? (regarding unvaccinated people not getting hospital care).