Paralyzed by Covid, Israel bids to be first country to vaccinate its way to safety

TEL AVIV – Israel aims to be the first nation to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic by vaccinating the majority of its population to return to normal.

The country is currently the leader in global vaccination fee: it has given more than 10 percent of its vaccination dose 9 million citizens in two weeks.

That is a significantly higher proportion than any other nation Our world in data, a collaboration between researchers from Oxford University and the non-profit Global Change Data Lab.

Israel vaccinated more than 150,000 people for three consecutive days last week, and on Friday the millionth person was injected with a Pfizer BioNTech dose. The country has now vaccinated more than half of the 2 million people at risk it considers a high protection priority.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine on December 19 at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel.Amir Cohen / Pool via AP file

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was the first to receive a shot in Israel on December 19, has called the country a “vaccine advocate” and declared it is “ahead of the world” in the Middle East.

“Perhaps we will be the first country in the world to emerge from this coronavirus and that is very good news for all of us,” the longtime Israeli leader said on Tuesday to convey the positive message in a country that has been brought into a country to reinforce the deadlock caused by the coronavirus.

Boaz Lev, head of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s advisory committee on coronavirus vaccines, attributes the country’s success to, among other things, its highly organized health system, early contracts with vaccine manufacturers, and the government’s efforts to combat misinformation about vaccination.

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Israel has also managed to repackage vaccines and allow their transportation to small and remote locations like nursing homes, rather than requiring people to travel to limited numbers of vaccination centers, according to the ministry.

“I really hope we are the first country to be vaccinated. I hope the whole world comes with me, ”Lev told NBC News. “And it’s not a race against other countries. It’s a race against the virus so everyone wants to win this race and I really hope we will be there as soon as possible. “

Around 700 reserve soldiers are now called up to speed up the pace of vaccination, while the Israeli military is among the first in the world to begin vaccinating its members, according to a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces.

The country’s rapid success is also likely due in part to the number of vaccines it has acquired compared to its population. These deals appear to have been brokered in part by Netanyahu himself.

“I have spoken 13 times with the CEO of Pfizer and several times with the CEO of Moderna,” he said in a speech on Thursday.

“We have brought millions of vaccines here, more than any other country in the world relative to population,” he added. “And we brought them to everyone: Jews and Arabs, religious and secular. Everyone can and should be vaccinated. “

A colleague helps a medical worker put on their personal protective equipment at a testing center in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ammar Awad / Reuters

And there is still a long way to go. Israel recorded 3,977 new positive Covid-19 cases on Sunday, and the country has yet to give the second dose of Pfizer – which is necessary to ensure immunity – to every 1 million people who have had a shot so far.

Even so, Israel is way ahead of the curve as countries struggle to obtain limited vaccine supplies and vaccinate their populations. Countries around the world may watch with admiration and envy.

In the United States, officials have struggled with the introduction of the vaccine, blaming everything from snowstorms and holidays to storage problems and general inexperience. An analysis by NBC News on Tuesday found that at the current rate, it would take nearly 10 years to get enough Americans vaccinated to keep the pandemic under control.

Israel, which is only a fraction of the size of the United States, may find it easier to vaccinate its population than it is for the United States, one of the largest countries in the world with more than 330 million people.

Low and middle income countries are also disadvantaged. COVAX, a World Health Organization-affiliated initiative to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all countries regardless of income, said last month It is planned to give the 190 participating countries access to cans in the first half of 2021.

For example, Israel’s Palestinian neighbors currently do not have access to a vaccine, which means Israelis could potentially return to normal life even if the virus continued to hit Palestinian cities and villages just a few kilometers away.

An Israeli soldier was vaccinated last month at the Tzrifin Military Base Medical Center in Rishon Lezion. Jack Guez / AFP – Getty Images

Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai Alkaila said Monday that health authorities in the territory were “concerned about the low vaccination rate in Arab society”.

Palestinians living under Israeli control in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are not involved in the vaccination campaign. Arouse criticism that Israel is failing to meet its legal obligations.

If that succeeds, the ambitious vaccination campaign will likely give Netanyahu a boost ahead of the fourth elections in Israel in less than two years, slated for late March. The vote is an unprecedented threat to the prime minister’s long-standing takeover and will come as the corruption process against Netanyahu is in full swing in February.

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and taking bribes in three longstanding corruption cases.

Lawahez Jabari contributed.

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