The health minister of Israel has urged countries to just ‘get out there’ if they want to replicate the vaccination success of his country. Yuli Edelstein said that the country had emerged as the clear leader in the world’s vaccination race due to early procurement, expert logistics, close cooperation with the manufacturer, and their own innovation. Mr. Edelstein said that the quicker they could get vaccines in their arms, the fewer cases would be seen in the hospitals and they would result in fewer deaths from COVID. He said that he had spoken to Matt Hancock, the health secretary in Britain.
Mr. Edelstein said that rather than setting up things in the middle of the capital and get people to come, it was better to get the vaccine out there to their areas. It has been three weeks since Mr. Edelstein, along with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, received the first two jabs of the vaccine on live television. Since then, the country has received a great deal of appreciation for its swift rollout of the vaccine. However, there has also been some criticism because Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have not been given access to the procured vaccine.
The vaccine program is a very important mission for the Prime Minister, as he would be facing another election in the next few months. He has named it ‘Operation Back to Life’ and has set the goal of vaccinating the entire population of Israel over 16 years of age by the month of March. The Pfizer vaccine had been procured by the country early on and in large quantities at a high price. They are getting regular supplies because Israel has become a model for Pfizer to test the efficacy of the vaccine at scale.
Even though regulators all over the world have given their approvals for the vaccines, none of them have had their efficacy tested on a massive scale. According to Benjamin Netanyahu, he personally made a deal with Pfizer’s CEO to provide the company with detailed information from patients who are vaccinated in exchange for priority delivery. Last week, Mr. Netanyahu said that he had had 17 conversations with Pfizer’s CEO and Chairman, Albert Bourla. According to Mr. Edelstein, they have already vaccinated more than a million and a half Israelis, and most of these are people over 60.
As far as those under 60 are concerned, they have prioritized medical teams, the first responders, police officers, and so on. Unfortunately, they have also experienced a rise in cases recently. Currently, there are 63,440 active cases in Israel, which is double the number, as opposed to last week. A huge complex of tents has been set up in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv where vaccinations are done. Citizens have been queuing up to get vaccinated. But, technical innovation and logistics have also played a role. They have also set up drive-through vaccination centers that are operating on extended hours and it takes only a few minutes to deliver the dose.