Coronavirus 2020: Israel in international comparison
This page contains graphs (latest update using data from April 6, 2020), that describe coronavirus infections per capita and deaths per capita in the 36 OECD countries plus Taiwan.
I use data from the CSSE at Johns Hopkins, merging them with UN population estimates from 2019. The graphs are divided by region within the OECD. On computer browsers, graphs on the left are infections per capita, and graphs on the right are deaths per capita (though note the different scales on the Y-axis). On mobile browsers, one graph will follow the other. Israel appears in all graphs as the thick blue line.
The general result of these comparisons is clear. In terms of infections per capita, Israel's rate is relatively low in comparison to Western and Southern European countries, but higher than Scandinavian and Eastern European countries. Within Europe, the rate of change in Israel's per capita infection most closely tracks the rate in Germany--Israel is about 3-4 days behind). Moving beyond Europe, the trajectory of Israel's infections per capita was remarkably similar to that of the US from mid-March until early April--in the fourth set of graphs below you can see them tracking each other for more than two weeks. Both Israel and the US shot well beyond other Anglophone OECD countries outside Europe (Canada, Australia, NZ), and beyond East Asian OECD countries. More recently, Israel's trajectory has started to flatten while the US continues its upward momentum.
There is better news for Israel in terms of deaths. Per capita mortality from coronavirus in Israel is remarkably low by international standards. It is less than 10% of the level in the Netherlands and Belgium, less than 20% of the level in the US, UK and Sweden. It is less than half of the level in Germany, and it is very similar to Finland. Within Europe, where coronavirus mortality has been much higher than in East Asia, Germany and Finland have emerged as the medical stars of the coronavirus pandemic. For Israel to have achieved equivalent levels is quite an accomplishment . . . though, as I argue here, some of it can be ascribed to simple good fortune (in the shape of Israel's young age structure).
Israel and European OECD countries
**Methodological note: As I describe in this Taub Center's blog, although CSSE coronavirus data is the best and most widely used respository, the data are not perfect. Measures of infection, in particular, are problematic for international comparisons because the number of clinically confirmed cases in each country is a function of (a) how many people have been tested; and (b) testing protocols, that is, the rules about who gets tested. Needless to say, these vary profoundly across countries, even within the OECD. Measures of coronavirus deaths, in this regard at least, are a more reliable across OECD countries, since all follow ICD standardized codes for registering cause of death.