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Forbes

Jan 04, 2021
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About this Deal

TOPLINE While the U.S. fell woefully short of its goal to administer 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of December, inoculating just over 4 million Americans, or 1.3% of the population, to date, Israel has vaccinated more than 14% of its population in a program so speedy that it’s reportedly running out of doses.
KEY FACTS
Leading the world in vaccinations, according to Our World In Data, Israel has benefited from its relatively small population—9 million versus 328.2 million in the U.S.—however, there are also a litany of logistical factors at play.

While the U.S. has, as noted by President Trump in a Dec. 29 tweet, left it up to individual states “to distribute the vaccines” once delivered by the federal government, Israel has benefited from a centralized government effort leaning on its socialized health care system to develop a national inoculation campaign.

In Israel, all citizens over the age of 18 are required by law to register with one of the country’s four HMOs in a highly digital system that experts say has coordinated well with the Israeli government and local officials, turning to army medics when needed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has struggled with a bumpy rollout marked by both supply and demand issues, leading to complaints from a dozen governors that they did not receive their promised allotment of doses and a mea culpa from one of the top officials behind the Trump administration’s vaccine production program, Operation Warp Speed.

State and local public health officials long warned that they did not have the resources for mass distribution—particularly given the state of overwhelmed hospitals and pharmacies across the country—requesting $8 billion in additional funding for infrastructure but receiving just $340 million in funding from the Trump administration.

Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Eldelstein, in an interview with The New York Times, also cited being an “early bird” in launching negotiations with drugmakers and securing undisclosed large amounts of vaccine doses (though at a higher price than other countries paid) as reasons why Israel’s campaign has moved so quickly.

The Trump administration faced blowback for reports that it passed on a chance to secure millions more doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, a claim that administration officials brushed off, assuring that enough doses will be secured.

CRUCIAL QUOTE
“We are leading the world race thanks to our early preparations,” said Edelstein.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Israel’s vaccination effort so far has not included the nearly 5 million Palistinians who live under its control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While human rights groups have said that Israel is responsible for vaccinating this population, among whom infections are rising, Israeli officials have rejected this claim.

KEY BACKGROUND
Since starting its vaccination campaign on Dec. 20, Israel has exceeded its goal of inoculating 150,000 residents per day and, according to Edelstein, should have its high-risk population receiving the second of the vaccine’s two doses by late January. If the U.S. continues at its current rate, administering an average of 225,000 doses each day, it could take years to vaccinate the country’s entire population. U.S. health officials on Sunday recognized that the vaccination campaign has been slow to get going, but predicted that the pace will increase and will soon surpass 1 million shots a day.

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