NBC News Thinks Country With Third Worst Coronavirus Infection Rate is a Role Model

When it comes to the United States’ utter failure to well handle the coronavirus, I think that journalists have a played a critical role, as they have failed in their important role to act as a check on bad policies. Doing that would involve a major focusing on what is going on in countries handling this much better than us, but they haven’t done almost any of that. Ignoring successful countries seemed odd to me back in April, but even this far into the situation somehow they haven’t changed course, as shown with a piece NBC News published yesterday, headlined “Israel’s handling of coronavirus seems like a success. Residents tell a different story.

There are multiple ways you could measure handling the coronavirus successfully. How many people are dying seems like an obvious one and one you can easily check. John Hopkins’ data is widely cited and they have a web page that you can look at every country’s number of deaths per 100,000 people. Out of 175 countries, Israel currently comes in 50th worst. The rate is 57.08 deaths per 100,000 people, that compares to 0.51 in New Zealand, a country I would consider a success. So what measure are they using instead?

The sub-headline doesn’t provide a justification of the claimed success, as it is “A recent poll by the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute found that just 24 percent of Israelis approve of the government’s management of the crisis.” Polling can useful for things, but when there are more objective measures I’m not sure why that would be focused on, other than journalist being overly interested in polls.

The first paragraph of the story is as follow:

As Israel outpaces Western nations in its Covid-19 vaccination effort, it has become a role model for a world aching to return to life as it once was.

While their vaccination effort might make them a role model for vaccinations efforts, they really are not a role model for returning life as it once was. In New Zealand, they have in fact already largely returned to life as it was, for example, holding large scale events without restrictions:

On January 16, the island nation of New Zealand held a 20,000-person outdoor concert where attendees neither had to wear face masks nor observe social distancing measures. The concert occurred as the country marked its second month without any new COVID-19 transmissions occurring between citizens.

By comparison, according to the article, Israel is “battling the world’s third-worst infection rate.” and “In late December, Israel became the first country to enter a third lockdown. Meant to last two weeks, it is still in force.” Those statements make it odd that the story makes public polling a counter to seeming success, since by objective measures things are going bad as well.

The reality here is that a common denominator among countries that have been touted as leading on vaccines so far, is that they have poorly handled the virus. If you are, say, New Zealand, you don’t need to rush out a vaccine since they actually have the virus under control even without a vaccine. That doesn’t seem like it should be hard to understand, but journalists seem to not be able to grasp that.

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