Benjamin Netanyahu was the first. Before the cameras and without losing his smile, the prime minister gave himself the first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine on December 19 to set an example for the Israelis. Two weeks later the Jewish State already has 1.2 million vaccinated and leads the world race of rich countries to vaccinate their citizens against the coronavirus, ahead of Bahrain.
The situation is the opposite of what its neighbor Lebanon is experiencing, whose authorities announced on Monday a reconfinement of the country from next Thursday until February 1. The cause lies in the increase in infections registered since mid-December, when the Government decided to lift restrictions, including trade, bars and clubs, in an attempt to relaunch the economy, which has led to the saturation of the hospital network Lebanese. Several medical organizations had already predicted this outcome since, just before opening, the intensive care units were in critical condition due to the increase in patients.
In Israel, meanwhile, the vaccination campaign coexists with the conditions of a third severe confinement to quell the spread of the coronavirus. In this record time since last December 19, Israelis have inoculated twelve percent of their population, which is almost half of the people at risk, according to the website Our World in Data, which is an alliance between the University of Oxford and a UK-based educational charity.
This rate will be reduced in the coming days due to the lack of supply from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer – a shortage that other countries also suffer, especially those in Europe – but it will not affect the second dose of those already vaccinated, reported the Ministry of Health. According to Channel 12, the intense publicity made by the authorities to show the success and speed of its campaign would have damaged the negotiating efforts with the German pharmaceutical company, which other countries are pressuring for having sold such a high number of doses to Israel.
In fact, the European Union is already negotiating the acquisition of new shipments of antiviral while some of its partners, such as Germany, Italy and France, have received strong criticism from various political and health sectors for the slowness in immunizing the population, using Israel as an example of effectiveness.
Asked about the reasons that have led the country to become number one in the world in this vaccination race, the Minister of Health, Yuli Edelstein, assured that “we were prepared on time, we signed contracts with the leading laboratories when it was necessary to sign them and we convinced them that if they guaranteed us the doses we would be able to distribute them in a short period of time. That is exactly what has happened.
The Palestinian situation
Israel has just nine million inhabitants and those in charge of vaccinating the population are the four mutuals that work in the country to guarantee a universal health system. “A small country, good logistics, strong competition between the four insurance mutuals and a prime minister in the midst of an electoral race,” these are the keys that would explain Israel’s figures, the journalist from the newspaper ‘Haaretz’ explained on social media. Anshel Pfeffer.
Mass vaccination and confinement is the formula that Israel appeals to to get out of the pandemic in spring. The country lives its third general confinement and registers more than 6,000 infected a day, which may lead the authorities to further toughen conditions in the coming days to avoid the collapse of hospitals. So far it has suffered 3,314 deaths from covid-19 and more than 419,000 cases.
Success on one side of the wall has nothing to do with the situation in the Palestinian territories, where only the doses that Israel sends to its settlements have reached. The authorities in Gaza and the West Bank depend on Covax, the coalition created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to guarantee access to the vaccine in poor countries. This body met last week to approve the emergency use of Pfizer’s drug.