Should Israel buy more ventilators? No!

A ventilator costs $75,000. If Israel were to buy 100 more ventilators for Jerusalem that would cost $7.5 million. Is this a wise expenditure of money? No.

We save a hundred lives — in this way — and we will end up with a lot more dead. We are talking about a virus that spreads exponentially! If we want to know where to spend our limited resources we need to understand what exponentially means!

Covid-19 spreads at a rate of 2.2 (current estimates.) This means one person infects on the average of about 5 days another 2.2 people. To soap up your ear (a Hebrew idiom for: ‘let me ‘splain it to you this way’) think about a Lily Pad and a penny.

Imagine a certain species of a Lily pad that spawns one new Lily pad every day. It begins to grow in a lake. It grows and grows and each new Lily spawns a new Lily.

So the first day you have only one Lily pad in the lake. The second day you have 2 pads. The third day you have 4. The fourth day you have 8. If the Lily pads covers the lake in 100 days on what day do you think it covered only half the lake? The answer is not 50. The answer is 99.

On the 99th day it covered only half the lake and that is why one day later all the Lily pads had one more Lily and covered the lake fully. On the 98th day it only covered 1/4 of the lake. On the 97th day it covered only 1/8 of the lake. On the 96th day it covered only 1/16 of the lake.

So the Lily pads were unnoticeable to a person in a rowboat 4 days earlier and 4 days later BAMMM the lake is gone.

Covid-19 is not just growing one new infected person like the Lily. It’s infecting 2.2 people every five days. It’s difficult to comprehend how fast that grows.

To put some more soap in your ear, take a penny in your hand and double it every day for 30 days. You will end up with 500 million pennies. FIVE HUNDRED MILLION! I covid you not! Einstein putatively said compounding is the most powerful force in the universe.

The most effective life-saving use of our resources against a virus that grows exponentially is not to buy more band-aids, i.e., ventilators. It is to stop the spread of the virus.

The government can save many more lives by using its money to buy and freely distribute on the street hand-sanitizers every day, to hire more quarantine police to make sure people who should be in quarantine remain in quarantine, to manufacture more Covid-19 tests to determine who has it, to call for a drastic nation-wide shut-down (which costs a lot of money) for at least a few weeks like in Italy: no one can leave their house other than to buy food and medication.

We need to stop the plague and our resources are limited. A wise expenditure of them would be wise.

About the Author
Robby Berman has a Masters (MPA) from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a Masters (MBA) from the Baruch School of Business and is the founder & director of the Halachic Organ Donor Society (
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