"СЕНСС" марта 23, 2020 No Comments

Undoubtedly, the early detection and rapid response to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (hereinafter referred to as “coronavirus”) is a matter of national security.

According to reports of the South China Morning Post, the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, can be traced back to November 17, 2019, according to the data of the People’s Republic of China. The coronavirus and the disease became widely known around the world already in December.

For early detection of the spread of coronavirus on the territory of Ukraine, the capabilities of the intelligence agencies of Ukraine and diplomatic units of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have been involved. An important source of information was the relevant open sources of the People’s Republic of China. Despite the restrictions imposed in that country, existing means of monitoring and special processing of information from open sources (traditional media and social networks) make it possible to collect and process the necessary information for further analysis. Once COVID-19 has been spread to other countries, relevant information should have been collected from appropriate sources.

Lack of own capacities for collecting information can be compensated by close cooperation with intelligence services and foreign affairs departments of friendly nations.

Information received in a timely and sufficient manner should be analysed to identify the risk level of coronavirus spread and to assess the level and urgency of the threat. Based on the analysis of the collected information, it would be possible to determine the rate of spread of the disease and to forecast not only the level of the threat but also to evaluate the best practices that have been used by other states, their misguided actions in order to avoid the recurrence of them.

The result of the collection and analysis of the relevant information should have been the forecast and the modeling of the development of the situation in Ukraine and to plan preparatory measures for a rapid response to coronavirus.

It should be noted that in October 2019 the Global Health Security Index1 identified a number of problems affecting Ukraine’s ability to prevent, detect and fight against epidemics and pandemics. The index covers 195 countries, in our context the following components (indicators) are particularly important:

  • early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern (Ukraine – rank 109, 36.5 points);
  • rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic (Ukraine – rank 100, 34.8 points);
  • sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers (Ukraine – rank 97, 23.0 points);
  • overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats (Ukraine – rank 146, 43.3 points).

There are “failed” indicators in the component “Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic”, with the following meanings:



Ukraine, number of points


Overall score in the Index


Emergency preparedness and response planning 0 16.9
Exercising response plans


0 16.2
Emergency response operation


0 23.6
Linking public health and security authorities


0 22.6

In the component “Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers”, the following indicators are of concern:



Ukraine, number of points


Overall score in the Index


Medical countermeasures and personnel deployment 0 21.2
Communications with healthcare workers during a public health emergency 0 15.1
Infection control practices and availability of equipment 0 20.8

In the component “Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats” it is worth paying attention to Political and security risk assessment. This indicator for Ukraine is estimated at 14.3 points, while the overall score in the Index is 60.4 points.

The underestimation of risks from the real threat, which is the spread of coronavirus, incomplete collection and analysis of information, including from open sources, has already led to late response to this threat.

This situation can be overcome by intensifying the collection and sharing of information on best practices and misguided actions and solutions that have already taken place in other countries. Finally, strategic documents to counter the threats of coronavirus spread and a comprehensive plan of measures to address the epidemic, its impact and help those who have suffered damage or loss.

It is obvious that, the National Security Strategy adopted by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, but not yet signed by the President of Ukraine, should be amended with the account of new threats in the health care and other spheres, particularly in economic, political, social, military and the like.



Vadym Chernysh, PhD in Law, the Head of the Governing Council of the Center for Security Studies “CENSS”





1The GHS Index (Глобальний індекс безпеки в сфері охорони здоров’я) – проект Nuclear Threat Initiative та The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, що був розброблений разом з The Economist Intelligence Unit .