NEW YORK, New York — By late March 2020, COVID-19 began making its way through Israel’s population. With many fluctuations in COVID-19 safety protocol, the nation faced three lockdowns and many fatalities. However, with the recent creation of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, there may be hope for the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel. Israel has surprised and impressed the world with its efficient vaccine rollout and implementation.
The COVID-19 Pandemic in Israel
As of January 14, 2021, there have been more than 529,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths in Israel. Israel initially received praise for its quick pandemic response. Although the virus reached Israel in March 2020, it remained under control for the first few months. Israel’s original success is attributed to its small population and border control protocol. Moreover, the nation’s history of crisis management allowed for better preparation. Deep Knowledge Group recognized Israel as having a top COVID-19 safety ranking.
Lockdowns in Israel
Israel implemented its first lockdown in March 2020. This quick response and the rigid rules implemented also contributed to the country’s initial success. However, the rules eventually became laxer, and by July, cases spiked. Israeli officials linked the heightened numbers to public gatherings such as weddings. In response, wedding halls, concert venues and public pools shut down. Restaurants and houses of worship could operate under certain restrictions.
Israel’s second nationwide lockdown began in mid-September 2020. The protocol was different than the previous shutdown. This time, individuals faced less stringent restrictions while businesses faced more. For example, the first lockdown restricted travel to 100 meters of the home. During the second lockdown, this was eased. Although individuals enjoyed more freedoms, only essential businesses could stay open. Despite these differences, data analysts noted that the results were similar. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, attributes this success to an increase in mask-wearing.
By December 27, Israel had entered its third lockdown. The government decided to issue this change once cases began averaging approximately 3,000 per day.
Pfizer Vaccine in Israel
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently secured an agreement with Pfizer pharmaceuticals. In exchange for statistical data, Pfizer supplied vaccines for Israel’s population. Pfizer will be receiving anonymous information regarding side-effects and efficacy based on an individual’s personal and medical background. This information will provide insight into future vaccination strategies and developments. Moreover, the World Health Organization will share in these statistics.
The Good News
With an influx of 100,000 to 500,000 vaccines sent by Pfizer weekly, Israel has become the highest-ranked country in vaccination rates. In fact, all citizens over 16 are expected to be vaccinated by the end of March 2021.
Moreover, research conducted by Israel’s leading health fund, Clalit, showed an upward trend in health among the elderly population. Over two weeks after the vaccinations were distributed, it was noted that 20,000 people aged 60 and above, displayed a major drop in infection rate. This amounted to a 33% reduction rate in the spread of the virus. It is important to note that not all 20,000 people had received vaccination at the time of the study. This displays how the vaccine not only prevents individuals from becoming sick but slows the general spread of COVID-19 as well.
The results of Israel’s widespread vaccination efforts show some positive results so far. In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel overall, only time will tell. Nevertheless, Israel’s vaccination efforts and successes may serve to decrease vaccine hesitancy in other countries and provide hope to the globe.
– Ella Kaplun