JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israel has urged the world to emulate its rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Israeli government has already vaccinated more than 20% of the country’s population and vows to vaccinate all over-16’s by the end of March.
Israeli health minister Yuli Edelstein has urged countries simply to “get out there” if they want to replicate his country’s vaccination success.
Speaking to Sky News, Edelstein said that expert logistics, early procurement, close cooperation with the manufacturer and Israeli innovation had all combined to make the country a clear leader in the global vaccination race.
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“The faster we get the vaccine into their arms, the less cases we’ll see in our hospitals and, God forbid, deaths,” Mr Edelstein said.
Since Edelstein and Prime Minister Netanyahu received the first two vaccinations live on prime-time Israel television just over three weeks ago, nearly 2 million Israelis have been vaccinated, including more than 70% of the country’s over-60-year-old and at risk populations.
“Get out there. Don’t put a huge station in the middle of your capital and wait for people to come… Try to get it out to – if not to their homes – then at least to their areas; to the suburbs, to their towns,” Mr Edelstein said, confirming that he had spoken to Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock.
After the talks with Israeli officials, Israeli journalist Amichai Stein reported that Britain has revolutionized the country’s vaccination system and ‘duplicated parts of the Israeli vaccination system.’
Israel is currently the world leader in vaccinating its population, with more than 22% of the population having already received the first dose. Early indications suggest that the vaccine is actually working. Research by Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer found that 50% of a sample group of 300 Israelis who had received their first Pfizer jab already had enough antibodies to protect them against Covid-19 after two weeks. This is even before the second vaccination, due to be administered three weeks after the first.
The fast rollout of vaccines came with a price however, since Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed last week that Israel will act as a large world testing laboratory, with the results from this huge research serving to set vaccination strategies in the rest of the world and also assisting the pharmaceutical companies in continuing R&D for coronavirus vaccinations and other treatments.
In an agreement signed with Pfizer, Israel will receive hundreds of thousands of vaccines per week, tallying some 10 million vaccines by March. In return it has committed to send the pharmaceutical company data and details especially gathered for them, including the consequences of the inoculations, side effects, efficacy, amount of time it takes to develop antibodies according to different types of population, age, gender, preexisting conditions etc. The agreement extensively details the various parameters that will be sent to Pfizer. It was also agreed that in order to protect privacy, no details will be sent that would enable Pfizer to know the identity of those vaccinated, just their medical records, age and gender etc., for a giant research project.