Israel’s COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Reaches Half the Country’s Population

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COVID vaccines administered in a Tel Aviv bar, last week.
COVID vaccines administered in a Tel Aviv bar, last week. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Half of Israel's population has received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than a third of the population has been given the second jab, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Friday. 

According to the latest figures, Israel has vaccinated more than 4.6 million people (50 percent of the population), with more than 100,000 people receiving the jab on Thursday. Of the overall figure, almost 3.3 million people (35.2 percent of the population) have received the second dose of the vaccine.

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Israel halted all shipments of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said on Thursday, adding that he was looking into the legality of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send vaccines to foreign countries.

Mendelblit said he was told by Israel’s National Security Council all shipments have been stopped, pending a legal review of the scheme, which critics argue Netanyahu has no authority to approve.

A study carried out by HMO Clalit shows that the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech provides very high protection against symptomatic illness, severe illness and death, closely approaching the level of protection the companies announced from their Phase III clinical trial. 

Israel has delivered 2,000 of a promised 5,000 vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority, destined for healthcare workers in the West Bank.

So far, Palestinians have received 10,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, 2,000 of which were transferred to Gaza, after being briefly stopped by Israeli authorities.

The UAE also sent 20,000 shots of the Sputnik V to the coastal enclave via Egypt.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rolled out in Israel is 98.9 percent effective in preventing death two weeks after the second dose, Israeli data shows. This is the latest update from Israel's Health Ministry which tested the effectiveness of the vaccine up to February 13, which means it is relevant for the number of people that were vaccinated by the end of January.

More data analysis from Israel shows a person fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer's inoculation has a one in 1,000 chance of contracting the disease.

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