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Israel's 'variant radar' keeping tabs on emerging Covid variants globally

Israel's 'variant radar' keeping tabs on emerging Covid variants globally

Published:18 January 2022

Israel has developed a "variant radar" dedicated to gathering intelligence on emerging COVID-19 variants across the world and it helped the country react to fast-spreading Omicron even before it got its name, its Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

New Delhi/Davos | Israel has developed a "variant radar" dedicated to gathering intelligence on emerging COVID-19 variants across the world and it helped the country react to fast-spreading Omicron even before it got its name, its Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday.
Addressing the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda 2022 summit, Bennett said Israel was the first country in the Omicron wave to shut its skies for a few weeks to buy time and formulate the best policy response based on analysis of data from its national database and the actions of other countries.
"The pandemic is all about data information and gleaning insights from that data. Israel has developed a 'variant radar' of data scientists dedicated to gathering intelligence on emerging variants around the world. That's why we reacted to Omicron before it even got its name," he said.
Noting that the pandemic has changed the ways we work, he said the world is now more dependent than ever on remote working and nearly half the global investment in cyber defence in recent years has come from Israel.
On regional bridge-building, he said the Abraham Accords -- cooperation agreements signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in 2020 -- have the potential to greatly accelerate regional trade.
Trade between Israel and the UAE has skyrocketed, while trade with Egypt remains tiny.
Bennett said he views the UAE as "a gate to the East" and regards Africa as a big potential partner for Israel. Referring to his recent meetings with President Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan, he said, "I want to inject more content into these relationships." The prime minister said his wider strategic aim is to firm up agreement among regional partners who are coming to see Israel as "an anchor of stability in a very tumultuous region".
He also talked about his move to open Israel's borders to Palestinians and said it is helping tens of thousands from Gaza and the West Bank to make a better living.
The most sustainable way to bring stability could be through business, economy and jobs, he said while talking about joint Israeli-Palestinian industrial zones to allow Palestinians to work in high-tech sectors.
He said Israel has committed to reaching net-zero on carbon emissions by 2050.
Pointing to Israel's "small carbon footprint", he said the country's unique contribution to fighting climate change is through its high-tech innovation sector.
Israel is already a world leader in climate-relevant technologies such as generating, conserving and recycling freshwater, he said, while noting that the climate crisis gives it the opportunity to grow its capacity in renewable energy and alternative meat products.


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