As of Sunday, Israel’s vaccine rollout reached half of the country’s citizens, which has made it the fastest campaign in the world. Moreover, this vaccine campaign has also provided the first real-life look to other countries at how mass vaccination can be used for bending the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a ton of Israeli medical research conducted and some of it has emerged too quickly for academic journals to be able to keep up. This research indicates that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is even more effective at preventing death and serious disease and it is safe for almost all adults. Plus, it has also been declared free of side effects.
Due to the scientific results obtained by Israel, health officials have chosen to open the inoculation program to nursing mothers and pregnant women. The findings also indicate that the vaccine is safe for people suffering from autoimmune diseases and allergies. Most importantly, the vaccine has proven to be very effective in protecting the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Therefore, hospital administrators in Israel claim that they are no longer worried about COVID-19 collapsing their critical care systems. Almost 90% of Israelis over the age of 50 have been vaccinated.
Israel’s total population is 9 million and this small number, combined with the country’s universal national health system, has made it a natural vaccine lab. More than 4.6 million people have been inoculated in the program and the first injection achieved the fastest pace per capital for any country. Both shots of the vaccine have been given to around 3.3 million people. Pfizer has asked to access the anonymized data that’s maintained in a digitized medical file for every citizen in Israel and in exchange, it is offering a steady supply of vaccine doses.
This data has helped the health ministry, scientists from different universities, and Pfizer in tracking the impact of the vaccine with unprecedented speed. However, there are some urgent questions that have not been answered by the research, such as how well the vaccine is performing against the new variants of the virus that have been discovered. Likewise, experts are also divided on what the studies indicate about people remaining contagious after they have been vaccinated, which is an important issue in slowing down the spread of the virus.
Apart from that, Israel hasn’t managed to become the example that the world is looking for when it comes to life returning to normal. The rate of infection in the country is still stubbornly high and is driven by the spread of variant strains of COVID-19 and the failure of some of the communities to comply with the lockdown restrictions imposed. Still, health officials are reassured by the upbeat reports, as they have been anxiously waiting for the vaccine to be deployed within months, something that has previously taken years to happen in the case of other diseases and viruses, making this a major accomplishment on the part of developers as well.