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Did Prof. Yaakov Jerris Say Vaccine Can’t Prevent Severe COVID-19?

Did Professor Yaakov Jerris from Ichilov Hospital admit that the vaccine cannot prevent severe COVID-19 disease?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Prof Yaakov Jerris Said Vaccine Can’t Prevent Severe COVID-19!

Antivax and conspiracy websites are claiming that Ichilov Hospital director, Professor Yaakov Jerris admitted that the vaccine cannot prevent severe illness from COVID-19.

Are Israeli hospitals really overburdened with COVID patients who haven’t been vaccinated? The situation, according to Prof. Yaakov Jerris, director of Ichilov Hospital’s coronavirus ward, is radically different. According to the professor, COVID vaccines cannot protect us from severe illness as we are being told.

“Right now, most of our severe cases are vaccinated,” Jerris told Channel 13 News. “They had at least three injections. Between seventy and eighty percent of the serious cases are vaccinated. So, the vaccine has no significance regarding severe illness, which is why just twenty to twenty-five percent of our patients are unvaccinated.”

Jerris also highlighted some of the ambiguity in case reporting. He addressed ministers at a cabinet meeting on Sunday, “Defining a serious patient is problematic. For example, a patient with a chronic lung disease always had a low level of oxygen, but now he has a positive coronavirus test result which technically makes him a ‘serious coronavirus patient,’ but that’s not accurate. The patient is only in a difficult condition because he has a serious underlying illness.”


Prof Yaakov Jerris Did Not Say Vaccine Can’t Prevent Severe COVID!

This appears to be a “variant” of the earlier misinformation being shared on anti-vaccination and conspiracy website.

Just like the earlier version, this is FAKE NEWS created by antivaxxers, who likely based it on a bad translation (which could be intentional).

Here are the facts of this case…

Fact #1 : Hospital Is Called Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center

There is no longer an Ichilov Hospital. That is the former and colloquial name for the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

The original Ichilov Hospital was established in 1961, and renamed as the Sourasky Medical Center in June 1973.

That hospital was then combined with two other municipal hospitals in 1980, and renamed as the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

Fact #2 : He Is Professor Jacob Giris, Not Yaakov Jerris

There is no Professor Yaakov Jerris listed amongst the staff of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. That name was likely a translation mistake by someone using Google Translate / Bing Translate.

His actual name is Professor Jacob Giris (יעקב ג’ריס), and he is the director of their Internal Medicine department.

Fact #3 : His Words Were Taken Out Of Context

I managed to obtain a video of Professor Giris speaking on Channel 13, which I will share below.

It was in Hebrew, which I don’t understand. So I had a native Hebrew speaker check it out for me, and this was the opinion :

The translation and explanation in the articles you sent were taken out of context.

He is saying that for critically ill people with existing health conditions, the vaccine is less relevant. In his hospital, most COVID-19 patients are much older and come in with co-morbidities.

He is not against the vaccine, he was just saying that it was less relevant for this particular group of patients.

Fact #4 : He Said Earlier That Most COVID-19 Patients Now Don’t Die

About a week earlier, Professor Giris posted this statement in Hebrew on 27 January 2022, where he stated that :

Here is the English translation, which I attempted to clean up and make more understandable :

Hi, this is Prof. Jacob Giris, the Director of Internal Medicine Department and COVID-19. My team and I have been on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 since the second wave.

I read the news about the mortality reports, hospital wards that are full of patients and expert alerts to postpone the cancellation of isolation for children and I would like to give you a snapshot of the situation in my department here in Ichilov.

This wave is different from the previous waves. The patients that arrive are coming in because of other diseases and not because of the Omicron variant. The rate of turnover in the ward is like that of a movie – every day ten patients are admitted and discharged on average.

Fact #5 : It Was Likely A Bad Translation

The viral news report called him Professor Yaakov Jerris, and the quotes attributed to him are grammatically odd.

After using Google Translate and Bing Translate to translate his Hebrew post (see Fact #3), I realised that the viral news report was most likely mistranslated from Hebrew.

With that in mind, and based on what he said a week earlier, this was my interpretation of what he said :

This would match what he said a week earlier, about many patients coming into his department with other diseases, and incidentally discovered to have COVID-19.

And this was confirmed by the Hebrew translator who watched the video. See Fact #3.

Fact #6 : He Never Said Vaccine Can’t Prevent Severe COVID-19

A bad translation is one thing, but this new fake news “variant” claims that Professor Giris admitted that the vaccine cannot prevent severe COVID-19 disease.

That’s not what he said. He is quoted to have said, “the vaccine has no significance regarding severe illness“.

You don’t have to be a linguist to know that there is a big difference between “no significance regarding severe illness”, and not being able to prevent severe illness.

And in the video, he actually said that the vaccine had no significance, because the patients that came in were already severely sick with other diseases. See Fact #3.

Fact #7 : Misleading To Use Percentage

It is misleading to report that 80% of severe COVID-19 cases are of vaccinated people, without the necessary context. After all…

In addition, the vaccinated-unvaccinated ratio for severe COVID-19 is highly dependent on age, co-morbidities, and whether the patients came in for other medical problems.

Senior citizens with co-morbidities, and coming in for other medical problems, are far more likely to develop severe COVID-19, than young adults without co-morbidities.

Without context – data – it is impossible to know the true situation. But that is perhaps why anti-vaccination and conspiracy websites are reporting the claim without context.

Fact #8 : This Is Base Rate Fallacy At Work

As explained above, we should expect more cases of vaccinated people getting severe COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, simply because there are far more vaccinated people than unvaccinated people.

This concept is sometimes difficult to grasp, which is why it’s being abused by antivaxxers to trick you into thinking that vaccinated people are more likely to get severe COVID-19. That’s nonsense.

This is the Base Rate Fallacy at work, which Marc Rumilly demonstrates in this visualisation.

At first glance (left), it may appear that more vaccinated people are getting hospitalised than unvaccinated people.

But if you “zoom out” and look at the population as a whole (right), the risk profile is completely different. It is obvious now that unvaccinated people are far more likely to be hospitalised than vaccinated people.

Fact #9 : Unvaccinated People Have 6X Higher Risk Of Severe COVID-19

Marc took actual data from the Israel Ministry of Health, to demonstrate how the Base Rate Fallacy masks the fact that unvaccinated people in Israel are 6X more likely to get severe COVID-19 than vaccinated people.

Fact #10 : Vaccines Greatly Reduced Infections + Deaths

Many studies have already proven, time and time again, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

Let’s take a look at one example – the October 2021 study in Israel which looked at the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in preventing new infections and deaths of people over 70 years old.

New Cases dropped by 20X after vaccination

Deaths dropped by 6X after vaccination

I hope the facts presented here offer a clearer picture of what is really going on in Israel.

I will update this article when I get more information.


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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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