King David & The Corona Vaccine

King David on Zion, Immanuel Giel, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

When King David sinned by counting the people (against God’s command), God offers David a choice of three punishments: Seven years of famine, three months of fleeing from your enemy or three days of plague. David famously chooses the latter, stating “Let us fall into the hand of Hashem and not into human hands” (Samuel II 24:14). King David chooses the punishment of God over that of man (Rashi explains that in a famine one is placed at the discretion of the wealthy). And Jews remember this choice twice a day, most days of the year, in the Tachanun (supplications) that come after the Amidah in the morning and afternoon prayers.

I have these words of King David ringing in my ears since I and my family were recently forced into quarantine after testing positive for Corona (courtesy of an outbreak in the school in which my wife is a teacher). 

A positive Corona diagnosis in Israel is a surreal experience. With symptoms that are  comparable to a cold or flu, we were telephoned daily by the police (and visited once) to check that we were staying at home. Not all the kids had a positive test, so more tests were required during the week, some by Magen David Adom (MADA) who kindly sent an ambulance to our home, with a man in a Hazmat suit, to carry out the tests. When it finally came to being “released” this required the involvement of a number of (very polite and helpful) call center staff from our healthcare organisation, MADA and the Health Ministry. In summary we had a cold but we were treated as if we had Ebola.

Corona is a natural disease (unless you subscribe to the theory that it was designed by the Chinese – although most scientists believe that that would be beyond their technical capabilities). However, the response to it is a very much man-made crisis.

The “experts” explain to us that lockdowns, masks and quarantines are required, not to reduce mortalities, but to reduce the pressure on the health service. However one must ask, “how much unnecessary pressure has been put on health professionals by treating this disease like Ebola?”.

We have a vaccine and everyone is being urged to take it. However, a health professional friend of mine who has just been inoculated explained to me that he would still be wearing his mask as there is no evidence that the vaccine will stop transmission. At the same time, the latest data (from Sweden) tells us that over 90% of Corona fatalities are from over 70’s and the chronically ill (dw.com, 16/12/2020, Coronavirus: Sweden admits lapses in elderly care). If that’s the case, why vaccinate the young and healthy when the danger of the vaccine (2.3% of vaccinations result in a significant side effects – see Anaphylaxis Following m-RNA COVID-19 Vaccine Receipt – WHO report – 19/12/20) outweighs the danger of the virus for almost everyone under the age of 70? And if you would claim it is to “reduce transmission”, well apparently that’s something that even the vaccine manufacturer doesn’t claim!

So here’s my suggestion. (1) Vaccinate those over 70 and with chronic illnesses (high risk) and anyone else who requests it. (2) Stop treating this mild cold as Ebola and taking up valuable professionals’ time with home tests and police checks. (3) Use the liberated professionals to man the hospitals instead and deal with the higher than average load on the system.

As King David said, give me God’s punishment, any day, over man’s. Give me Coronavirus over the harsher human response. Save our health resources for making people well and don’t fritter them away on pointless home arrests. I believe that, given the choice, King David would have opted for catching the virus rather than taking the vaccine – he would have risked God’s curse over mankind’s mismanagement. And I’m glad to have achieved natural immunity without being forced to take an experimental vaccine.

About the Author
The writer is the emeritus Rabbi of Radlett United Synagogue with a Masters degree in Public Health from Hebrew University and a lifelong career in finance.
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