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Israel leads global race to become the first country to vaccinate all its people against Covid


ISRAEL is winning the global race to become the first country to vaccinate its people against Covid, figures show.

More than a million Israelis have received their first Pfizer dose since the vaccine rollout began less than two weeks ago.

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Israel is leading a global race to become the first country to vaccinate all its people against Covid

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Israel is leading a global race to become the first country to vaccinate all its people against CovidCredit: AP:Associated Press

That is more than 11 per cent of the country’s nine million population – and a higher proportion of any other country.

In Britain, only 1.5 per cent have received their first jab.

The Israeli government flew the vaccine in from Pfizer’s manufacturing hub in Belgium and began a highly efficient distribution programme.

The Israeli army scrambled the refrigerated lorries required to transport the vaccine from the main store near Ben Gurion airport to local, centralised hubs.

And from there the vaccine is being distributed to people by four health maintenance organisations (HMOs).

The HMOs work in a similar way to the NHS, but compete for members and funding.

Eyal Gabai, chairman of the Meuhedet HMO, said: “Each HMO is constantly looking at what the others are doing, copying each other and looking for better ways to make services more accessible.

The Israeli government flew the vaccine in from Pfizer's manufacturing hub in Belgium

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The Israeli government flew the vaccine in from Pfizer’s manufacturing hub in BelgiumCredit: AFP or licensors

“That’s why every Israeli now has complete online access to all their medical files and can book video consultations with their doctors.

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“And we all have nationwide networks of clinics, so every Israeli lives very near one.”

Kenneth Cohen, a retired rabbi from Jerusalem, said: “I didn’t even need an appointment.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid a premium for the Pfizer jab and was at the airport to greet the first shipment.

He also became the first Israeli to receive the jab. Since then he has visited a vaccination centre nearly every day, with TV crews.

If Israel keeps up the speed of its vaccination programme most Israelis will have had their jabs just in time for its parliamentary election day on March 23.

And it may help Netanyahu’s Likud party cross the line after a series of criticisms over the handling of the pandemic.

A woman receives a jab against Covid at a vaccination centre in Umm El-Fahem, Israel

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A woman receives a jab against Covid at a vaccination centre in Umm El-Fahem, IsraelCredit: Reuters
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