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Health minister angrily rejects TV claim that COVID death rate is a ‘failure’ compared to other Middle East countries

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein receives a coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on December 19, 2020. (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein receives a coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on December 19, 2020. (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein angrily denies a TV report suggesting Israel is faring poorly in terms of its per capita death toll from COVID-19.

In a segment this evening, Channel 13 news first cites figures from the Oxford-based Our World in Data showing Israel well ahead of the rest of the world in its per capita vaccination rate.

But the network then cites data from Worldometers showing Israel is 56th globally in terms of deaths per million people. It notes Israel’s death rate — 464 people per million — is higher than in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and Egypt.

This figure, it says, represents Israel’s unacknowledged coronavirus “failure.”

“We’ve handed the pandemic efficiently,” Edelstein says in an interview with the network, dismissing the criticism.

He fumes at the comparison with Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East, saying Israel’s handling of the coronavirus should be assessed relative to Western countries like Britain, Belgium, Italy and the United States.

Wordometer data shows Belgium, the UK, Italy, the US, Spain, France, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Canada among the 55 countries worldwide with higher per capita death tolls.

“How dare you cite a ‘failure’ to handle coronavirus,” he fumes, claiming that only in Israel is such criticism made of the government. In other countries, he says, television stations lead their news broadcasts praising the Jewish state’s approach to the pandemic.

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