Israel ranks 5th in Bloomberg world COVID resilience tracker

With ‘lightning-fast vaccination drive,’ Israel makes entry to top of tracking platform that assesses how global economies are handling pandemic

An Israeli student receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection at a high school in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, March 17, 2021. (Flash90)
An Israeli student receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection at a high school in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, March 17, 2021. (Flash90)

Israel came in fifth this month in Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking, a monthly data-backed monitoring system first launched in November 2020 of how world economies are handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg released the latest ranking on Thursday and said that the Jewish state’s jump from ninth place last month to fifth is due to its “lightning-fast vaccination drive” which has now seen over half the population fully inoculated.

Since late December, close to five million Israelis have received their second Pfizer/BioNtech dose, according to the latest Health Ministry figures.

The Bloomberg ranking uses data to “capture where the pandemic is being handled most effectively, with the least social and economic disruption — from mortality rates and testing to vaccine access and freedom of movement.” The ranking issues a resilience score based on fatality rates, infection rates, deaths per million people and inoculation percentages.

New Zealand ranked first in the Resilience Ranking, followed by Singapore, Australia, and Taiwan in fourth place. South Korea ranked after Israel in sixth place, followed by China, Japan, Thailand and Norway, which rounded out the top 10. Canada ranked 16, the US placed 21 and the UK came in at 25.

People shop at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv on February 22, 2021, after it reopened following a few weeks of lockdown. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“Israel is the first new entrant into the top of the Resilience Ranking since Bloomberg started keeping track in November, with the pantheon of COVID success stories dominated by economies in the Asia-Pacific region,” the organization wrote. “But unlike many top-performing places where entry is tightly policed to keep the coronavirus out, Israel’s vaccine-driven normalization means it’s easing border curbs quickly.”

The Israeli Health Ministry said Friday morning that 5,213,638 people in Israel have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 4,690,678 of them receiving both shots.

Israel’s plunging infection figures represent a dramatic improvement over the past two months and are credited chiefly to the successful vaccination campaign. This despite more infectious virus variants proliferating and the gradual lifting of restrictions, which at their peak shuttered the entire education system, public venues and most nonessential businesses.

Most of the education system has since reopened, along with much of the economy. Limited audiences have been allowed at sports and cultural venues, with the coronavirus cabinet recently approving increasing capacity at such events.

People eat at a restaurant in Jerusalem’s main market after authorities reopened restaurants, bars and cafes to ‘green pass’ holders on March 11, 2021. (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

The virus’s basic reproduction number, representing the average number of people each virus carrier infects, was given as 0.56 — a slight increase for the first time in two weeks. Any figure under 1 means the outbreak is abating. The figure represents the situation as of 10 days ago due to the incubation period.

The data showed just 830 new cases diagnosed a day earlier and since the start of the pandemic 831,228 people in Israel have been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Israel’s serious COVID-19 cases dropped to 470 people in serious condition, including 212 on ventilators.

Of the 65,406 virus tests conducted on Thursday, 1.3% returned positive, continuing the steep decline since January when the positive test rate reached over 10%.

The death toll stood at 6,164.

500 million jabs worldwide

On Friday, AFP reported that more than 500 million doses of vaccines have been given around the world, citing an internal tally. By Friday at 0900 GMT more than 508.3 million doses had been administered in at least 164 countries worldwide.

In terms of numbers, the US is way ahead with 133 million jabs given, followed by China with 91 million and India (55.5 million).

European Union countries have given 65 million doses between them to 10 percent of the bloc’s population.

A man receives the AstraZeneca vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid, Spain, March 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Several of the world’s poorest countries have started their vaccination campaigns using doses delivered for free under the COVAX scheme launched by the World Health Organization, the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

But only 0.1 percent of the doses injected around the world were given in these poor countries, home to nine percent of the global population.

In contrast, the richest countries — which is home to about 16% of humanity — have had 54% of the doses.

More than a quarter of all doses given so far (26%) were in the US.

Which vaccines, where?

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been administered in rich countries as well as poorer ones, notably thanks to Covax of which it is the main supplier. It is also administered in India.

The vaccines produced by US-German Pfizer/BioNTech and the American Moderna are more expensive and harder to store. They are mainly used in rich countries.

In this Thursday, March 11, 2021, file photo, a health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being made available to residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac jabs have been administered mostly in their home markets as well as emerging and developing countries.

The American Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the first to require just one dose, has so far only been rolled out in the US and South Africa though it has been approved in Canada and the EU.

AFP contributed to this report.

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