Crucial Coronavirus Info Unavailable to Israeli Public, Ministers, and Decision Makers

The Israeli public, like its decision makers, has come to the critical early point of exit from the coronavirus crisis without clear objectives, timelines or milestones for implementation. The fog covering Israel’s battle against the virus at this stage is the result of a lack of necessary information and an inability to access what information does exist, as part of what looks like a policy of ambiguity and fear of criticism over the handling of the crisis or of the inability to deal with its challenges.

The race after Health Ministry information has become an integral part of the crisis. Researchers, doctors, journalists and mere ordinary citizens want to know more. But the information being published is partial and heavily processed. Those very few who seem to have access to additional information, like journalists or experts interviewed in broadcast studios, hint that such a thing indeed exists, but is only released under certain circumstances that dovetail with the line being promoted by the ministry.

– Corona keeps Bibi in power and unmasks the Mossad

Corona keeps Bibi in power and unmasks the MossadHaaretz

People in the health system have the feeling that everything relating to the COVID-19 crisis is being treated as a “security” issue, as if the information was connected to national defense and must be kept secret.

On the decision makers’ desks are all kinds of reports and models for an exit strategy. But they were drawn up by a very select group of people who were granted access to the raw data collected by the Health Ministry, and which isn’t accessible to the public, health system officials or researchers.

In an epidemiological event of this nature, the data required by those coping with the crisis includes information on the global situation, data and academic research from other countries, and the valuable local data that has been accumulated as the crisis continues – about the pace of infection, hot spots, medical characteristics of the virus, risk groups and other statistics. All this is crucial for making decisions and planning what comes next.

But of the few people given access to this information, most have nothing to do with the Health Ministry or the healthcare system, and some of the strategy-planning teams don’t include any medical officials or public health officials, epidemiologists or experts on contagions; they are mathematicians, physicists, computer experts and economists. They include teams from the National Security Council, the Gertner Institute (which is partly funded by the Health Ministry but doesn’t answer to it) and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The lack of transparency and access is so extreme that information is often denied to the senior professional echelons of the Health Ministry itself.