As the COVID-19 epidemic fades in Israel, it becomes clear that a radical theory proposed by a brilliant scientist based on mathematical models was precisely accurate in predicting the effects of the epidemic. According to his theory, lockdowns were the result of “mass hysteria” and have no positive effect on ameliorating the spread of the disease. He also stated that there is no reason to believe that the much-dreaded second-wave will ever show up.
It would be an understatement to say that Isaac Ben Israel, a mathematician, military scientist, general, and ex-politician who is currently serving as the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency is a very smart man. So when the coronavirus had the entire world cowering in their homes in the middle of April, most people were skeptical when Ben Israel, who is not a health or medical expert, released a study concluding that simple statistical analyses demonstrate that the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days. Though he supported social distancing, he attributed the policy of lockdowns and closures was a case of “mass hysteria.” He stated that this 40-day pattern would be the case no matter what measures the government took, or did not take, to ameliorate the pandemic.
“I have no explanation,” Ben Israel said, claiming his predictions were based on graphs and math. “There are all kinds of speculations. Maybe it’s related to climate, or the virus has a life-span of its own.”
Ben Israel also said that the economic impact of the shutdown would cost Israel 20% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and was a disproportionate response that may save one or two lives daily when, on average, 140 people die every day in Israel. He cited countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Sweden which did not shut down.
At the time, health officials contested his conclusions but remarkably, current data indicate that Ben Israel was precisely correct. The first case in Israel was reported on April 2 and exactly 41 days later, the epidemic hit its peak, as per his predictions of new patients per day peaked at about 700 more patients per day. On May 2, the number of newly infected people per day dropped to under 100 for the first time since the outbreak.
The Israeli government claimed victory due to the strict lockdown measures but Ben Israel points to similar, if not better results in Taiwan which had no lockdown.
Now, Ben Israel is claiming that the second wave that most experts predict will hit in the winter will not come.
“It’s very amusing that people talk about a second wave,” Isaac Ben-Israel, a prominent mathematician, chairman of Israel’s Space Agency, and a former general, told The Times of Israel. “How do they know there will be a second wave? And how do they know that it will come in the winter?”
Another remarkable conclusion he drew from the pandemic related to the rate of mortality, claiming the number of deaths was not relative to the number of infections.
“There is a natural assumption that fewer infections means fewer deaths but it’s not correct,” he said, arguing: “There is no explainable relationship between the number of people infected and the number of people who die. The ratio between deaths and infections differs sometimes by a factor of 100 or more between different countries.”