Report: Israel Has Fewest Epidemiological Researchers in the West

Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a lab at a Leumit Health-Care Services branch in Or Yehuda, on Tuesday. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

The number of epidemiological investigators in Israel is ten times fewer than any other country in the Western world and still won’t come close to European countries even after the country’s research apparatus is bolstered soon, according to a report published on Thursday by the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate.

In Western countries, the ratio is one researcher per several thousand residents, while in Israel the ratio is one single researcher per 300,000 residents. Even after the planned reinforcements, the ratio is expected to be one researcher per 30,000 Israelis.

For comparison’s sake, in the U.S. state of Michigan, the ratio is one researcher per 1,400 residents, and most researchers are volunteers. In the U.K., where there is one researcher per 2,200 residents, just one-third of the researchers are health-care professionals, while increasing their ranks was one of the preconditions for easing countrywide restrictions following the first wave of the pandemic.

In Germany there is one epidemiological investigator per 4,000 residents. In New York, there is one researcher per 6,200 residents, and the threshold determined for easing restrictions was one per 3,333 residents. Epidemiological training in New York can be done via an online course.

In Singapore the epidemiological investigations are conducted by doctors and military personnel, mostly in the hospitals themselves and on military bases.

“Increasing the manpower is important, but not enough on its own to prevent waves of infection,” the MID report said.

Countries in the West and Far East are focused on epidemiological research for the purpose of “identifying the sources of outbreaks and severing the chain of infection,” the report continued.

“To this end, tight cooperation exists between local authorities and mobile testing teams. … Some countries have even established research and information sharing infrastructure between the various bodies,” the report said.

The common approach across the globe is to gradually ease social distancing restrictions by relying on these epidemiological apparatuses.

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