It’s not only Israeli leaders who are patting themselves on the back for their world-beating rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination. World leaders and major news media are patting them on the back too—and wondering aloud why their own countries are lagging behind.
In Israel on Tuesday, the 500,000th person was vaccinated, achieved in just the first week of its vaccination drive.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and various lesser figures were on hand for the historic shot, at the vaccination facility at the Pais Arena in Yerushalayim.
Said Netanyahu, who has positioned himself been at the forefront, calling up the Pfizer CEO himself to secure the vaccine supply: “We have worked to bring millions of vaccines to the State of Israel via the Minister of Health and the Health Ministry, the hospitals and the HMOs, all of which joined in the huge vaccines operation.
“We are ahead of the world in bringing and giving the vaccines. Israel is the world champion in vaccines, in first place by a lot. We aspire to quickly give as many vaccines as possible but first to take the at-risk population out of risk because most of the tragic mortality and most of the morbidity is concentrated there. Only thus will we be able to open the economy, help businesses and restore life to normal. This is our goal: To get life back on track as quickly as possible.”
Herzl and Fadila Levy were commended by Netanyahu for being the 500,00th, apparently in a tie across the finish line.
Clalit Health Services Chairman Yochanan Locker took note of the international acclaim: “I have heard from colleagues around the world about the amazing vaccines operation in Israel,” he said.
In Germany, the Israeli performance has prompted some self-questioning.
The headline in the German daily Bild on Tuesday said “World record holder: Why is Israel succeeding in vaccinating so much faster than us?”
German news channel ARD reported from Tel Aviv, “Israel plans vaccinating 60% of its population by March. In Germany that target won’t be achieved until the end of the summer.”
Particularly irking is that the Pfizer vaccine was developed in the German city of Mainz by BioNTech with the help of German universities and a €150 million federal German government grant.
Some of the blame for Germany’s slow pace was foot-dragging at the EU in carrying out the collective contract, as well as a loophole, which failed to stipulate a delivery date for an extra 30 million vaccine doses, according to Globes.
The U.S. and Canada are also behind. In Canada, CTV reports, “As of yesterday only 50,000 Canadians have been vaccinated compared with 200,000 in the U.S. and 500,000 in Israel.”