Israel and Ukraine discussed ways to fight with the second wave of COVID-19
July 14, 2020, on the initiative of Israeli-Ukrainian Alliance with the support of Embassy of Ukraine in Israel and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an online strategic session was held. The topic was: “Second Wave of COVID-19. Israel and Ukraine join forces to develop strategic and technological solutions". The discussion encompassed presentations of officials, business and medical community representatives from both countries.
Key highlights of the session
- How to change the government system to cope with the pandemic more effectively?
- How do cyber intelligence technologies help to trace contacts of COVID-19 positive people?
- Why Ukrainians should be proud of domestic businesses’ reaction to the pandemic?
- What procedures should business implement to mitigate negative risks of COVID outbreak?
- How can academic institutions assist in handling the virus?
- Is it possible to determine a virus positive person, analyzing the sound of his/ her cough?
- What are the quarantine measures “respectful to human”?
- How does our mental health impact the physical one, in particular, on our chances to catch the COVID-19?
Michael Lotem, Director, Economic department, Asia, CIS at MFA Israel welcomed IUA’s initiative and “called not to stay still, as COVID-19 changes the rules of the game very quickly”.
Hennadiy Nadolenko, Ambassador of the Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Israel, emphasized that “for us, diplomats, it is important to get back to the prepandemic level of relations. Today a slight drop in external trade is noticeable, but we have learned to use online means, so the work is improving".
Tali Ploskov, Chair of the Ethics Committee, Member of the Knesset for Likud, stressed that the government pays special attention to supporting small businesses: “There are a lot of private entrepreneurs in Israel. The majority found themselves in a very tough situation due to the crisis, caused by COVID. Unfortunately, in compliance with current regulations, they are not entitled to a paid sick leave, vacation or unemployment benefits. The government has to take urgent measures in order to help them, in particular, adopting relevant bills".
Maria Mezentseva, MP of Ukraine, Deputy Head of the Committee on EU Integration, noted that as of today European integration focus has shifted to the review of export quotas for Ukraine and to the e-commerce regulations, which are likely to contribute to the economic recovery after the recession, caused by the pandemic: "Moreover, we continue to work towards visa-free expansion: avia visafree – common airspace, food and industrial visa-free regimes – an opportunity to export not only raw materials, but also finished goods".
Dr. Ihor Kuzin, Acting Director General of Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, summarized the changes that should be implemented in the government system to secure a more effective response to crises, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- To increase the level of citizens` confidence in official messages.
- Appropriate work and regular testing of legal and financial mechanisms for intersectoral and interagency cooperation.
- Adjusting the reform program of the state’s healthcare system and epidemiological surveillance.
- Improving social sphere capacity to ensure social guarantees, payments for forced unemployment, home assistance, etc.
- To establish more flexible regulatory sphere in order to amend efficient legislation during a crisis.
- To create opportunities for the domestic production development with the purpose of reducing country's dependence on foreign supplies at the time of forced isolation.
- To adopt some centralized IT solution for tracing contacts of COVID-19 positive people.
In addition, Igor Kuzin noted that "the decentralized model of crisis response to the pandemic has proved its ineffectiveness, therefore the management vertical is being restored, which will ensure further country's epidemiological security".
Vitaly Trakhtenberg, Sales Director at RayZone Group LTD, company which creates cyber intelligence solutions for governmental and federal agencies, responded on one of Igor Kuzin`s request: “Imagine that a COVID-19 positive person queued in a supermarket. Owing to our system, we could determine people, who stood near that person, using only his or her phone number”. One of the questions adressed to Mr Trakhtenberg was about privacy violation and the use of personal data: “GDPR – four letters, that we have learned very well recently. Article 9, point (i) of the General Data Protection Regulation states that a ban on personal data processing is not accepted when "processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross-border threats to health. Our system is already working in some EU countries and in North America”.
Maryna Saprykina, Managing Director for CSR Ukraine, shared the results of a survey concerning the reaction of Ukrainian businesses to the quarantine: “Ukrainians could be proud of the domestic businesses’ response to the crisis: 88% of respondent companies supported the fight against COVID-19 in one way or another. Among the most common measures: doctors and hospitals` support, purchase of medical equipment, provision of goods and services free-of-charge".
Lilia Zagrebelna, Sustainability Director at Nova Poshta, shared an important practice of mitigating the risks, associated with COVID-19, which could be adopted by other enterprises: “The company has developed internal protocols, which answer the question “What exactly should be done to minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus?”. The following set of actions is assumed: if there is a suspicion that an employee has a viral infection, the post office, where he/she works in, is urgently closed for three days for the disinfection. An employee must take the PСR test. At the same time, a map of his contacts of the first and second levels is created. Meanwhile, the entire department staff is sent for testing and two-week selfisolation, with 50% of salary reservation. If the PCR test results are negative, people return to work. Surely, we train staff on these procedures".
Anna Pellivert, VP Business Development of Yissum, Hebrew University Jerusalem, leading Technology Transfer company, answered the question “How can academics contribute to fighting the pandemic?”: “Yissum is a platform, which enables the migration of scientific ideas from the university into an industry, and then into society. Our scientists have already had their own achievements in the field of virology, in particular on swine flu and Ebola. Today they adapt their researches to peculiarities of the new virus. We have received a few government grants. As a result, the Hebrew University has filled 24 patent applications for new solutions that will help society in a few years”.
Dr Sergiy Zhitansky, technical director at Transfotech and founder of the platform NewCare, who works in Predictive Medicine for HealthCare: “We have created a group of products, which helps to determine on early stages such diseases as cancer, viruses, tuberculosis and diagnose lunges and other organs. Moreover, our technology allows to predict the approach of serious health conditions (stroke, heart attack) according to changes in human behavior. Our solutions function together with the ability to timely respond to people fall, the sound of cough, owing to which we determine with a probability of 90% a viral disease. A complement to our product is the ability to identify people with fever, even in crowds, as well as responding to cases of violence and fire”.
Prof. Manfred Green, Head of International MPH Program, School of Public Health, University of Haifa, reminded about dangers, COVID-19 will further represent: “Spanish flu spread all over the world in three waves, lasting from 1918 to 1920. There was an unwillingness to impose restrictions, which is largely similar to current situation. The second wave of COVID-19 in Israel was caused because of reducing quarantine measures prematurely. It is now important to impose “new rules”: physical distancing, wearing masks in public without fail, massive gatherings limitation, contact tracing and strict adherence to the principle “if sick – stay at home”.
Dr. Evgeniy Kazman, Infectious Diseases Unit, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, warned that the “new norms” are rules for everyone and nobody is safe from risks of a “sad scenario”: “We still do not know much of COVID-19. There was a case of 22-year old basketball player that has been much talked of in Israel. He was healthy as an ox, but caught a very severe form of COVID. He literally died two times. The boy was lucky to recover. Today on TV he persuades people to wear masks. The paradox is that that three of his friends got over the disease very easily. Reasons, why that basketball player fall ill with the extreme stage of the virus are still unclear. As a medical practitioner, I may say that every case of COVID severe form is a real challenge for doctors and every recovery is like a miracle”.
Eugene Nayshtetik, managing partner of the biomedical innovation company Lorton Investments, urged to think about the “side effects” that come with strict quarantine measures, taken by most governments: “Quarantine is the same medical technology as any other, and the same standards should be applied to it as to any other therapeutic intervention. In particular, it is important to consider side effects with changes in the quality of people`s life. It is not a secret that doctors all around the world keep reporting about an increase in stress-induced diseases: someone has got an ulcer, others suffer from aggravated cardiovascular problems. There is no way I appeal to the quarantine measures abolition. I just want to say that these measures should be planned with a “human touch”. When deciding on how to tackle the pandemic, authorities should treat people like people, not like an abstract population”.
Dr. Pavel Goldstein, PhD Assistant Professor, Head of Chronic Pain and Public Health Laboratory, Head of Biostatistics MPH program, School of Public Health, University of Haifa, Israel, highlighted the mental health problems during the pandemic and their ability to enhance or reduce our risks of catching COVID-19: “One in five doctors is experiencing clinical depression, four out of ten suffers from sleep disorders. However, this issue is relevant not only for medical personnel. The pandemic exerts a very serious impact on the mental health of all of us. This could cripple our immune system, being the last obstacle on the way of the virus getting inside. We realize that at some point, the danger of COVID19 will decrease, but psychological and even psychiatric problems will remain. To help people in this challenging time, we are developing the T-life app in order to support mental health and hopefully the immune system”.
Anna Zharova, CEO of IUA: “The strategic session lasted three hours. At the peak, 90 people joined to listen to the speakers. This demonstates a great interest in discussed topics and speakers, in particular. Every speaker had an opportunity to present his/her vision of the issue, but many issues remained open. We fully support Michael Lotem's call for moving forward. At the end of the session, the session`s partners and speakers agreed to continue the initiative. Among other things, we plan to carry out a separate online meeting, dedicated to challenges, which business faces during the recession, caused by the coronavirus".
Strategic partners of the event
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
Embassy of Ukraine in Israel
Ministry of Health of Ukraine
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
About the initiative group
The event was initiated and carried out by Israeli-Ukrainian Alliance, an international company focused on strengthening social, business, and investment relations between Israel and Ukraine. www.iualliance.com
IUA's strategic partner in Ukraine is Quattrgroup, an Israeli-Ukrainian group of companies, which makes investments, and owns a portfolio of horizontally diversified assets in Ukraine. www.quattrgroup.com
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