Israel’s vaccine programme gives hope to the world




OVER ONE-THIRD of Israel’s population has received a vaccination against covid-19 since December 19th. Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, has campaigned heavily for vaccinations, personally lobbying the boss of Pfizer, an American drugmaker, to secure early shipments of its vaccine. He was the first Israeli to be jabbed, live on television. He promised that “Israel will be the first country in the world” to emerge from the pandemic—by the end of March. (Conveniently, this is when Israel will be holding a parliamentary election and Mr Netanyahu believes success will boost his Likud party.) This was a bold claim considering nobody was sure that vaccines would successfully lower infection rates by enough to lift lockdown restrictions.

There is now evidence that the vaccination programme is having an impact. Analysis from Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, and his colleagues, has found that covid-19 cases are falling appreciably among old people in Israel. The effect is especially pronounced in hospital admissions: among people aged over 60 severe hospital cases have fallen by 26% since their peak on January 19th (see chart). In contrast, among those between 40 and 59—a group further back in the queue to be vaccinated—such severe cases have increased by 13%.

Publication Date: 3 February 2021

Publication Site: The Economist