At Half Million Mark, Edelstein Denies Vaccine Shortage

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man looks out of the window of his shop onto an empty street in Yerushalayim on the second day of a coronavirus lockdown, Monday. (Reuters/ Ammar Awad)

As Israel approached half a million vaccinated on Monday night, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein dismissed rumors that they were now facing a shortage of the Pfizer shots.

“I hear all over the place rumors about a grave shortage in the vaccines,” he said. “There is no shortage, and there will be no shortage.”

On the contrary, the pace of vaccination has been accelerating. The vaccination drive started last week, giving priority to healthcare workers, people over 60, and other at-risk groups,

A record 99,000 people were vaccinated on Sunday, bringing the total to 379,000, and Edelstein said that over 100,000 were given shots on Monday, putting Israel ahead of all other countries in the race to get vaccinated.

At this rate, Covid-19 will basically be defeated by mid-January, according to Eran Segal, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. “In two to three weeks, we’ll start to see a very significant fall in serious cases among the elderly and at-risk groups, and after that, of course, a reduction in fatalities.”

Despite Edelstein’s assurances of sufficient supplies, the Meuhedet HMO warned on Monday that it would have to slow the rate of vaccinations unless further supplies are received in the next four days, Channel 12 reported on Monday night.

But, like Edelsten, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the acting head of the Health Ministry’s public health services, was also distributing reassurance.

Alroy-Preis said the ministry was working “around the clock” to ensure there would be no let-up. She said Israel was “mainly in contact with Pfizer” to ensure there will be no shortages.

Channel 12 said Israel expects to receive a total of 3.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by Thursday — enough to vaccinate 1.9 million people, since the Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart. Alroy-Preis said the HMOs are setting aside the second vaccine dose for each person inoculated.