Israel’s Ministry of Health has confirmed that a leaked video showing an expert warning the agency about potentially facing lawsuits over COVID-19 vaccine side effects is real, but issued false statements about the discussion.
Video footage recorded during a meeting held behind closed doors over the summer showed that experts hired to analyze post-vaccination adverse event reports said the analysis proved a causal relationship between some of the events and the vaccines and warned about presenting the data in a certain way in order to avoid lawsuits.
In an official report authorities released about two months later, in August, they said, “The report presents all the cases that were reported in close proximity to the receipt of the coronavirus vaccine, and does not necessarily indicate a causal relationship between receiving the vaccine and the reported phenomenon.”
The ministry, or MoH, repeatedly declined to comment to The Epoch Times about the video and also did not return queries from Yaffa Shir-Raz, a health journalist and professor who obtained the video from a source.
Officials present during the meeting also declined to comment or did not respond to comments and have not commented publicly on the situation.
An unnamed official at the MoH now says the video is legitimate. The remarks were made to Reuters, which posted a “fact check” on clips of the meeting that Shir-Raz has posted online and in social media posts sharing the clips.
Shir-Raz told The Epoch Times that she found it interesting that an anonymous MoH source responded to Reuters when the ministry would not respond to repeated requests from her.
“It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Health does not have enough courage to stand behind its response officially, and instead prefers to hide behind an anonymous responder,” she said in an email.
The MoH official offered several falsehoods in their comments to Reuters.
MoH also claimed that “there are no unknown side effects or new signals.”
But according to Sasha Zhurat, one of the presenters, that’s not true.
She said during the meeting that the data “allowed us to really identify new phenomena like tinnitus, like hypoesthesia and paresthesia” and that “we actually identified new phenomena that do not appear in the consumer brochure such as dizziness, tinnitus, hypoesthesia, paresthesia.”
Zhurat also pointed out that the brochure, handed to prospective vaccine recipients, listed certain durations for possible side effects.
The leaflet says the problems are “supposed to pass within a few days and we saw that this was not the case,” Zhurat said. Some problems lasted for more than a year, including menstrual irregularities, with no end in sight.
Zhurat declined to comment on the discussion, telling The Epoch Times in a Facebook message that she’s no longer part of the team analyzing the data.
Shir-Raz had said on Twitter that one of the meeting portions showed that only one of the four health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in Israel provided adverse event reports. MoH said that reports were received from all of the HMOs, or organizations that provide citizens with healthcare.
The HMOs have not responded to requests for comment.
During the meeting, presenters said that many of the reports came from Meuhedet, one of the HMOs. Maccabi, another, “did not send that much because … they collected phenomena by themselves and not through your form,” Maya Berlin, another member of the team said.
Dr. Mati Berkovitch, the leader of the team, said the point was “super important.” “This means that there are HMOs that keep the information close to their chest,” he said.
Additionally, according to a draft copy of the report the MoH ultimately released, which Shir-Raz also obtained, a person on the team questions whether they should point out that “there are HMOs that did not send messages and therefore there is a bias in the reporting?”
The final report makes no mention of this point.
“They could have reliably reported how many reports there were from each HMO. Why didn’t they do it?” Shir-Raz wondered.
Retsef Levi, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Israeli native who has been closely following the situation, says that the MoH “lost the trust of the public in Israel exactly because of behaviors like that.”
It would take a new leadership and different behavior to undo the tremendous damage that was caused,” he told The Epoch Times in an email.
Didn’t Watch Video
Reuters took aim at the video clips that have been released and judged them in the “fact check” as “misleading.”
But Reuters didn’t watch the full video, a spokesperson confirmed.
“As stated in the Reuters fact check, the Ministry of Health said the video clips that appeared online were of an internal meeting recorded without their knowledge, and that the full recording was not available,” a Reuters spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email. “Reuters stands by its reporting that the edited clips published online were taken out of context and are misleading.”
Reuters never approached Shir-Raz for the full recording.
“As for Reuters, no one has contacted me to request a comment or to watch the recording. It is surprising to find out that this is how the second largest news agency in the world operates,” Shir-Raz said.
“My investigation, in which the allegations of concealment and lies are based on an authentic recording of a discussion in which the speakers were not aware that they were being recorded and therefore spoke freely—which is the highest level of evidence, is a case that is very easy to verify or alternatively debunk. All Reuters had to do was contact me and ask to watch the recording (a basic journalistic standard)—as The Epoch Times reporters did.”
The Epoch Times watched the full recording and had it translated into English.
According to WhatsApp messages reviewed by The Epoch Times, a person named Anat Koren, who identified herself as working for Reuters as a fact checker, reviewed the video clips that were posted online but never asked for the full video. Reuters did not deny that Koren works for the company.
Koren was also given the number for Berkovitch but Reuters did not say in its article whether Berkovitch was contacted. Berkovitch has not responded to queries from The Epoch Times.
Koren also said Reuters could not publish an article unless the MoH responded. The video was first leaked in August, and Koren was made aware of the clips that month.
“My hands are tied. It’s under Reuters. It’s up to them what they will publish. I’m just a fact-checking investigator. The Ministry of Health has not yet responded,” she said, adding soon that they heard back but the MoH was “not willing to comment at the moment.”
“It is not part of my job to decide what is published. In fact, if they don’t contradict what you posted, we don’t have a case,” Koren said in the messages, which were exchanged with Levi.
According to the messages, Koren was not aware that the Israeli system was different from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a U.S. government adverse event reporting system that allows users to submit reports anonymously. She also did not know that some countries have compensated people who have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccines.
Source: The Epoch Time