According to this report, Israel has treated more than 10 percent of its 9.2 million population with coronavirus since it started giving the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine on December 19. It has dosed nearly four times as many people per capita as Bahrain, which comes second.
The UK, which had a lead, comes in third. Israel gave about eight times as many people per capita as Britain did. (The US is in fourth place.)
These numbers confirm the anecdotal evidence we received from my wife’s cousins in Israel. Two of them, one in their early 60s and the other in their late 50s, were vaccinated last week. The younger of the two got a shot because the vaccination center had leftovers at the end of the day that it couldn’t store.
Why is Israel doing so well? According to a news report we heard on French television last night, the Israeli government was extremely aggressive in purchasing the vaccine. According to reports, the government was willing to pay a premium price to get it.
In addition, the drug companies were reportedly eager to supply Israel as its reputation for efficiency made it a good place to showcase the vaccine. However, Israel has been delivering doses so efficiently that it may run out of vaccine. There may be a short pause.
According to the same French news report, the military has deployed personnel in support of efforts to speed up the management of gunfire. Apparently Israel is being mobilized to vaccinate in ways that other nations do not.
It helps that Israel is highly centralized. It doesn’t have to rely on states like the USA or cantons like Switzerland. The report we heard on French television contrasted Israel’s early success with the stalled efforts of the Swiss (so far).
The mass media want to attribute Israel’s success to its nationalized health system. Most developed countries, however, have nationalized their health systems. So that’s not the explanation.
The mass media also groan that Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip are not getting the vaccine from Israel. However, there is no reason why Israel should help Palestinians get the vaccine until Israel has vaccinated its entire population. At this point, it could be in Israel’s best interest to stop the pandemic in the adjacent West Bank.
In any event, the Palestinian Authority does not appear to have asked Israel for access to the vaccine.
Israel, of course, is administering the vaccine to Israeli Arabs. However, they are more reluctant than Jews to receive the shot. Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to an Arab city to encourage Israeli Arabs to opt for the vaccine. He explained:
We have brought millions of vaccines here, more than any other country in the world for its population. We have brought them to everyone: Jews and Arabs, religious and secular.
“Come and get vaccinated,” he added in Arabic.
In some areas there were fears that the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel might resist being vaccinated. According to the New York Times, however, these fears have “resolved”. I wonder if there was ever a good foundation for it.
It is to the credit of Israel and Netanyahu that Israel leads the race when it comes to vaccinating its population against the coronavirus. Nobody should be surprised that Israel is doing so well.