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Israel: What the country's Corona vaccination success has to do with digitization


Israel vaccinates its population against Covid-19 much faster than Germany. This also has to do with a data deal that would hardly be possible in this country.

The fact that Israel is far better off than Germany when it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations for its population also has something to do with digitization there.

Israel has signed an agreement with Biontech and Pfizer to provide statistical data in exchange for vaccination doses.

It could be possible to immunize a large part of the citizens of Israel with the mRNA high-tech vaccine from Mainz by the end of March.

In return, Biontech and its partner Pfizer receive precise data on the effectiveness in the field of their vaccine - broken down by age, previous illnesses and other factors of the vaccinees.

These data sets should even be passed on to the WHO.

Such "real-world data" are important in the pharmaceutical industry and can only be obtained with great effort.

If Biontech and Pfizer will present data these days as to how likely their vaccine Comirnaty will prevent transmission of the coronavirus (in medicine this is called "sterile immunity"), this information will probably also be based on data from Israel.

The fact that Israel was able to enter into the data-for-drug deal is due to the spread of electronic patient files in the country.

Because unlike us, the medical files in Israel are centrally recorded and digitized.

Israel invested $ 300 million to make the content of millions of medical records available to researchers, companies and medical institutions under the project name "Psifas", mosaic.

AI systems can now plow through the anonymized data sets in search of possible answers, correlations or hypotheses.

Icon: enlarge

Vaccination in Tel Aviv: Israel is betting on a data versus drug deal

Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

Such approaches are not uncontroversial in medicine, and they caused quite a lot of difficulties even for giants like IBM.

And yet there are huge opportunities in it, for example when it comes to earlier access to innovative therapies or vaccines.

If a company has the option of rolling out new active ingredients and technology in Israel or another country on a test basis, they could give preference to Israel because of the more easily accessible data.

The collection there is considered by experts to be the most extensive digital medical database in the world.

The Israeli government even expects to be able to charge license fees for their use and is hoping to generate income in the millions.

This is how it looks in Germany

In Germany we are far from that, but at least a first step has been taken: As of this year, every patient has the right to receive their findings digitally.

Much more than a digitized file folder, which can now be accessed via the smartphone instead of standing in the living room cupboard, is not yet in there.

The ambitious goal of having all patient data in one database is likely due to Germany's size (Israel has fewer inhabitants than Baden-Württemberg), the jagged care system in this country (unlike in Germany, there are only four large health insurances in Israel that have an affiliated practice and hospital network) and, above all, German data protection concerns.

It is true that only statistical data is exchanged in Israel and no individual patient data, and its use can also be objected to.

But understandably some suspect that such a data exchange could enable unauthorized persons to gain access to sensitive information about the illness.

Health data is valuable and the risk of misuse is great.

But it can also be argued like this: Data protection can kill people, for example if it does not reveal therapy options at all or comes to light too late.

It is too late to catch up with Israel for the current coronavirus crisis.

But maybe Germany could at least pick up a small digital function from another country when it comes to vaccines.

In Bahrain, citizens can book vaccination appointments purely digitally via an app if they want.

In the app, which is also used there for contact tracking, you can even choose between different vaccines.

In Germany, instead, we talk cryptically about "vaccination offers", overloaded telephone hotlines and crashing servers for scheduling vaccinations.

Strange digital world: gorillas and conscience

For a few days now, you can also use the Gorillas food delivery service in that part of Hamburg where I live.

The company's promise: delivery in ten minutes.

So far it worked with every attempt, on average even in six minutes.

There is no minimum order value, but a delivery fee.

The drivers come by e-bike and talk enthusiastically about their work (they just prefer to get tips directly than via the app)

And yet I feel guilty every now and then: Do you have to order your groceries on the road when it is snowing if the driver could fall over?

Do you really have to place an order if the bike would only come for a few products?

How can it all work out so that food at supermarket prices arrives at home at such a speed?

And above all: How will this change our purchasing behavior if such services should catch on?

On the first day in the new delivery area, Gorillas had more than a hundred orders from just a few streets in Hamburg.

So there doesn't seem to be too many doubters.

External links: three tips from other media

  • “Good gamers, good managers?

    A proof-of-concept study with Sid Meier's Civilization "(English, 15 reading minutes)

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg once came out as a player in the strategy game" Civilization ".

    Some HR managers also use computer games like this to assess whether an applicant has management skills.

    Using "Civilization", this study examined whether good players also turned out to be useful applicants.

  • "Making Masks Smarter and Safer Against Covid-19"

    (English, five minutes to read)

    A US university has developed a sensor that, attached to masks, could detect the novel coronavirus.

  • "How An Apple Intern Helped Design The Original Emoji" (Video, English, 4:10 minutes)

    An ex-intern explains: This is how Apple's emojis came about.

Get through the week well

Martin U. Müller

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-02-01

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