How Senegal is Beating Us in the Fight Against COVID-19

I have held off on commenting upon the COVID-19 outbreak.  There is simply too much disinformation and fake news.  However, as a second COVID-19 wave sweeps over the country, some salient insights are clear from the first wave:  testing, social distancing, quarantines and selective lock downs are necessary to contain the virus outbreak. These are general takeaways for all countries.

However, perhaps the best comparisons can be gotten from comparing a developed country that is doing better than a developed country in containing the pandemic.  Ironically, Senegal seems to be doing better than Israel.  While this may seem that I am engaging in the proverbial comparison of apples and oranges, I think it is appropriate because there is the absence of one factor between the two countries: profit.

While in Israel, big pharmaceutical companies like TEVA are worth billions of dollars on the New York and other stock exchanges.  In other words, they are corporate powerhouses where I am cynical enough to believe that the bottom line is more important than anything else.

I can not think of anything more critical in the battle against Corona than test kits.  The state of Israel has had the Mossad and other agencies scrounging all over the Middle East to import kits.  The Technion is straining to churn them out.  However, in Senegal they have just announced the trials for a $1 kit for people there.  This way, everyone will have one.

By comparison the Israeli firm BATM Advanced, a provider of real-time tech for networking solutions and medical lab systems, announced in the first week of May that it had begun selling antibody tests for COVID-19 in Europe through its Italy-based subsidiary Adaltis. In other words, the almighty shekel rules while Israelis have trouble getting basic tests done.  Also, high tech solutions are chosen over low tech ones.  Big pharma has two fixations in Israel-profit and over complexity. As the Senegalese point out, the test kits are low tech.  This is their approach and they are succeeding.

Statistics speak louder than words.  Checking the statistics for both Israel and Senegal for COVID-19 on 14 June 2020 on Google, the results are as follows:

Cases overview


Confirmed 15,360   Recovered 19,008  Deaths 300


Confirmed 4,996    Recovered 3,228     Deaths 52

I am not an expert on medical issues.  However, as a caregiver, I can tell you that quick diagnosis and containment of a contagion is critical.  A pure focus on profit skews that.  Consider that Israel, a developed country, has some 9 million while Senegal, a developed one that has 15.85 million (2018).  Also, Senegal’s lock down is just being lifted now while international flights are totally banned.  Here, olim are coming in from the states.  A Tel Aviv study found that 70% of Israel’s Corona is imported from America.

 Something is definitely wrong with Israel’s response when it will not correct basic mistakes and a developing nation is doing better than we are.

About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.