One in five Israelis received first doses of coronavirus vaccines, around 10 times the rate in the UK and US, the country aiming to have vaccinated all eligible age groups within two months .
Israel’s lightning-fast vaccination campaign was expected to slow this week as the first batch of Pfizer / BioNTech doses were low.
However, on Saturday evening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had secured a pledge from the pharmaceutical company to advance deliveries in exchange for Israel providing “statistical data” – making the country a test case of mass to see how vaccines could stop the pandemic.
“We will be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus,” Netanyahu said.
“The deal I have made with Pfizer will allow us to vaccinate all citizens of Israel over 16 years of age by the end of March and possibly even earlier,” he added. . Later, while receiving his second dose of the vaccine, Netanyahu he told me the country could do so within two months.
“As part of the deal with Pfizer, we have decided that Israel will be a global model state for rapid vaccination of an entire country,” he said, adding that Israel will share data with the world that “Will help develop strategies to overcome the coronavirus”. Pfizer has not independently confirmed the deal.
Over 1.8 million Israelis – about 20% of the 9 million inhabitants – received their first vaccine, with the initial doses intended for those over 60, healthcare workers, caregivers and people at high risk. With more mailings arriving on Sunday, it is expected that teachers and younger age groups will have access in the coming days.
In addition to being a small country in size and population, Israel’s vaccine success has been attributed to its highly digitalized health system and a strong public awareness campaign. An election slated for March 23 also gave Netanyahu a massive push to quickly bring the country back to some form of normalcy.
Yet while ramping up vaccinations, Israel is currently on lockdown as it suffers from a dangerous increase in infections. The health ministry reports around 8,000 new cases a day, with a record number in critical condition.
The country is also criticized for failing to provide vaccines to millions of Palestinians living under its occupation. Last week Amnesty International said the disparity was an “illustration of how Israeli lives are valued over those of Palestinians.”
Israel claims that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which has limited autonomy and independently seeks vaccines, and the Gaza-ruling militant group Hamas are responsible for their populations.