Health Ministry adopts more accurate prediction model for COVID-19 cases

Israel's 2nd wave of COVID-19 is not hitting the elderly as hard as the first, challenging some previous models which predicted thousands of hospitalizations and a full collapse of the health system.

Sourasky Dermatology Department chairman Prof. Eli Sprecher  (photo credit: Miri Gotenu )
Sourasky Dermatology Department chairman Prof. Eli Sprecher
(photo credit: Miri Gotenu )
Coronavirus commisioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu instructed the team of scientists who create the disease forecast for critically ill and respiratory patients at the Gartner Institute to begin working in conjunction with the model developed by Prof. Eli Sprecher, deputy director-general for R&D and innovation and chair of the Division of Dermatology at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
"The different models all rely on a number of different assumptions and perspectives and the important thing is to keep up a dialogue between the researchers so they can compare opinions," Gamzu said following the statement.
"I have instructed that within a day, the researchers from both teams would produce a combined model that would form a unique, uniform and reliable basis for decision-makers," he added.

About two weeks ago, Sprecher predicted that on July 24, the number of critically ill patients would range from 282 patients to 338. The number of serious patients on Saturday, July 25, according to the latest report by the Health Ministry, currently stands at 312 patients - the third time in a row in which the model predicted correctly the amount of serious cases, according to Channel 12.
 
Sprecher's model takes into account three factors to make its prediction: the number of new cases; the “famous R – the coefficient of infection” (how many people will one infected person infect); and the relationship between severe cases and new cases.
When the “R” goes below one, the virus is being controlled, he said. When it is above one, it is developing.
Israel's second wave of coronavirus is reportedly not hitting the elderly as hard as the first, challenging some previous Health Ministry models which predicted thousands of hospitalizations and a full collapse of Israel's health system.
On Saturday, the Hebrew website Ynet reported that the number of people dying from the disease in Israel's nursing homes and assisted living facilities appeared to be on a significant downward trend.
Moreover, the chance of an infected person deteriorating is about 50% of what it was during the first wave, Sprecher said.

“This is very significant,” he said, adding that it is explainable based on the notion that many of the new cases are younger, and young people develop less severe symptoms than older patients. Also, with the increase in testing, many asymptomatic patients are being identified who would have been passed by before.
Sprecher's team includes Noa Geismar, Sarah Feldman and Dr. Ofer Sarig from the medical center and Prof. Yoav Benjamini from the university.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this article.