How Israel leads the world’s vaccine campaign
The coronavirus knows no borders, as countries all over the world are facing the same challenges to public health and their economies. From the outset of the pandemic, Israel has emerged as a leading nation in the global fight against the coronavirus, learning from the experiences of others and sharing its own with the world. It made the tough choices early on—closing borders, shuttering businesses, and limiting all nonessential activities—and sustained a burst of innovation surrounding the pandemic that included start-ups, telemedicine, and vaccine research.
Israel’s success in responding to the pandemic has continued into 2021, and the country now boasts the highest per capita vaccination rate of any country in the world, outpacing all others by far.
Israel began its vaccination drive in late December 2020, and within just the first two days of the campaign, nearly 30,000 Israelis were already given their first dose. Now, just a few weeks later, over 2 million Israelis have received their vaccination shot, and the country is on track to vaccinate all citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March. Through “Operation Back to Life,” Israel is set to receive ongoing shipments of the vaccine over the coming months, which will enable the country to reach its bold target and become one of the first countries in the world to exit from the coronavirus crisis.
In fact, Israel’s small population of some nine million and its highly efficient public health system mean that the country is going to play an essential role for pharmaceutical companies. The success and experience of our vaccination campaign will be used to provide the critical information that pharmaceutical companies need in order to make the vaccine even more effective for other countries.
Israel has developed a sophisticated and high-quality level of individual patient care, and all Israeli citizens are guaranteed health care under the country’s National Health Insurance Law. All Israelis can choose from four comprehensive not-for-profit health plans that provide a standardized basket of medical services, and each provider must accept all residents regardless of age or state of health. Combined, there are thousands of clinics spread across the country, ensuring that each and every local community is served.
Magen David Adom—Israel’s national emergency response service—continues to be at the forefront of the pandemic, having now been tasked with the responsibility of vaccinating the residents and employees of nursing homes and assisted living centers across the country. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was also mobilized to assist in administrating quarantine hotels and supplying food to families in lockdown at the height of the pandemic. Now, the IDF has dedicated its own paramedics and military reserves to the current vaccination efforts. This comprehensive system of doctors, nurses, and medics rapidly mobilized in response to the pandemic, and is now working toward vaccinating the entire country within a matter of months.
Israel has granted significant assistance to the Philippines to help its fight against COVID-19. The Israeli government turned over several donations consisting of personal protective equipment to the Department of National Defense and the Philippine National Police for use of their frontline workers, as well as education equipment to the Department of Education. We also shared knowledge with the Philippines through webinars, courses, and joint meetings. Furthermore, Magen David Adom has been sharing its experience with the Philippine Red Cross since the beginning of the pandemic. Israel will continue to support the Philippines in its vaccination campaign and the effort to restore the economy.
It is our hope that, by the end of 2021, we can all gather and celebrate in person the close friendship between the countries.
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Rafael Harpaz is the ambassador of Israel to the Philippines.
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