Israel’s COVID-19 Vaccination Deal with Pfizer

Israel’s Health Ministry revealed yesterday that the main objective of Benjamin Netanyahu’s deal with COVID-19 vaccine producer Pfizer revolves around the matter of herd immunity.

Israel has agreed to share data with the company that will enable both to analyse vaccination progress in an attempt to identify the inoculation percentage required to produce herd immunity within a country’s population.

Nursing home patients receive their vaccinationNursing home patients receive their vaccination (photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Details of the deal were released to the public in response to concerns over privacy. They show that the agreement does not include permission to transfer information to Pfizer that would compromise the privacy of people receiving the vaccinations.

The Health Ministry and Pfizer have agreed to meet weekly to discuss the results of the inoculation drive, with Israel committing to a rapid vaccination programme in exchange for regular supplies of the vaccine.

Israel’s relatively small population of around 9.3 million people, combined with its excellent healthcare system, makes it an ideal country for studying this important question.

Mandatory universal healthcare is provided by four publicly funded organisations that keep comprehensive digitised medical records. This centralised system has facilitated administering more than 2 million doses of the vaccine in less than a month.

The country’s Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, says the government will exchange data to:

“See how it influences, first of all, the level of the disease in Israel, the possibility to open the economy,
different aspects of social life, and whether there are any effects of the vaccination.”

Benjamin Netanyahu claimed:

“Israel will be a global model state. Israel will share with Pfizer and with the entire world
the statistical data that will help develop strategies for defeating the coronavirus.”

 By Sunday 17th January, Israel’s vaccination drive had reached more than 27 percent of the population, putting it well in the lead globally in terms of progress towards vaccinating the whole population.

In contrast, the accelerating vaccination programme in the UK has reached roughly 6 percent of the population.

These vaccination programmes are now engaged in a race against the spread of the third wave of COVID-19. The number of deaths in Israel passed 4,000 on Sunday and the country has around 1,130 patients in a serious condition, 273 of whom are supported by ventilators.

The recent surge of cases is put down to the highly contagious variants of the virus, including those discovered in the UK and in South Africa.

Most troubling for the Israelis is the fact that 9.1 percent of the conducted on Sunday yielded positive results. That continued the increasing trend of recent days and highlights the urgency of the vaccination programme.

UPDATE 25th January

The BBC have captured the latest information in this chart, with Israel having administered more than 40 doses per 100 people in the population.

BBC Chart on vaccination rates

But note that as well as 2.59 million Israelis receiving their first dose, more than 1 million of them have received their second dose.