Israel ranked third safest country for coronavirus in global assessment


Israel slipped from first place in a previous assessment due to Switzerland and Germany being better economically prepared.

Knesset's Coronavirus Committee meets to discuss the ongoing pandemic, June 2, 2020 (photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)

Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee meets to discuss the ongoing pandemic, June 2, 2020


Israel slipped to third place in a ranking of the safest countries to be in for coronavirus, according to a risk assessment conducted by the Deep Knowledge Group. In a previous study by the Hong Kong-based group, Israel was in first place. 

The list assessed 200 countries and regions according to 130 parameters, taking in over 11,400 data points to come up with a score for each country. The analysis took in six broad categories: quarantine efficiency, government efficiency of risk management, monitoring and detection, healthcare readiness, regional resiliency, and emergency preparedness, delving most deeply into the countries further up the list.

The organization behind the study – the Deep Knowledge Group – made headlines in April after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the study as proof of how Israel was succeeding in its fight against the spread of the virus. At the time, Netanyahu claimed that Forbes – the site where the group had posted its study – had ranked Israel. Later, Forbes released a statement saying that it was not responsible for the study but that it was posted on the blog section of its website. 

Until the publication of its first study, the Deep Knowledge Group was not widely known. It is said to be a small venture capital firm based in Hong Kong. At the time of the that study, Itzik Ben-Israel, a retired IDF general and chairman of the Israel Space Agency, called it the “mother of fake news.”

The results of the new study published on the Forbes website on June 5 are not merely dependent on the number of cases a country has experienced. For example, the top ranked country, Switzerland, has recorded 30,972 confirmed cases according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, and the second ranked country, Germany, has recorded 186,109.

Israel, ranked third, has recorded 17,915 cases to date, but as of Monday night has 2,474 active cases, of which 27 are in serious condition including 23 who are ventilated. By contrast, New Zealand currently has zero active cases but ranked ninth on the list, behind China and Australia.

Although there was a lot of variation from country to country, the authors noted that those which fared best did so either because of “their raw capacity to slow infection spread and treat COVID-19 cases, or the specific policies and strategies they use regardless of their raw capabilities.”

COVID-19 Regional Safety Assessment rankings / Deep Knowledge GroupCOVID-19 Regional Safety Assessment rankings / Deep Knowledge Group

However, the analysis revealed countries which should have fared better given their health infrastructure. America (#58) and the UK (#68) were held up by the authors as two countries which should have contained the spread of infection more efficiently than they were able to do in practice, a result which the authors said was “surprising.”

The finding strongly suggests that one of the most critical factors when it comes to COVID-19 safety was not preparedness ahead of emergencies, but the specific policies put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Economic factors also played a part in this, the second such study on the subject by the group.

“Switzerland and Germany achieve the #1 and #2 positions in this new special case study specifically because of their economy’s resilience, and due to the careful ways in which they are attempting to relax lockdown and economic freezing mandates in a fact- and science-based manner, without sacrificing public health and safety,” the authors wrote.

In the first assessment of coronavirus safety, undertaken earlier this year, Israel ranked #1. The authors explain that Germany leapfrogged Israel, and Switzerland moved ahead of both because of recent changes in the nature of the pandemic, which in turn impacted what safety now looks like.

“In our previous safety and risk assessment, regions which had very high levels of emergency preparedness and a capacity to efficiently manage national crises achieved the highest score because they had the greatest likelihood of managing the early stages of the pandemic,” the authors explained. “Now, however, as regions begin to prepare for relaxing lockdown conditions and economic freezing mandates, factors which impact their capacity to withstand economic fallout as a result of the pandemic take on greater levels of importance.”

The authors added that their aim in formulating the list was to serve as a launch pad for discussion, and as a resource for governments to optimize safety and stability by establishing optimized action plans for each country in order to maintain the health and economic well-being of their citizens.



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