March 10, 2021
“The Startup Nation” is quickly becoming known as the “Vaccination Nation” as half of Israel’s population has been vaccinated as of March 2021. Denmark and Austria have decided to join forces with Israel to boost their supplies. This move is in reaction to the European Union’s relatively sluggish rollout of a COVID-19 vaccination schedule slowed by internal disagreements and organizational challenges.
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen met in Jerusalem with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “We think that by joining the resources of three small but very able and gifted countries, we can better meet these challenges,” according to the AP.
The multiple strains of COVID-19 and concerns over the need to vaccinate populations for multiple years have made future planning vaccine delivery a necessity. One of the main points of cooperation discussed was the establishment of an in-country production facility of mRNA vaccines. Denmark and Austria are also engaged in talks with Moderna and Pfizer about building these factories.
The leaders also discussed pooling vaccine stockpiles and establishing distribution centers based on Israel’s model. Amid questions of future COVID-19 surges and how long immunity provided by vaccines will last, these preparations are intended for a quick mobilization to combat future crises.
How Israel Became the Vaccination Nation.
How did Israel become the world’s leader in vaccinations? There were false reports early in the vaccination campaign that Israel was willing to pay $30 per dose, double the amount, but these inaccurate reports were later disproven. Israel Channel 13 journalist Nadav Eyal explained that Israel is an ideal country to test such initiatives since the population is small, fairly tightly knit, and can be mobilized quickly.
The quality of Israel’s healthcare system also deserves credit for its early adoption of a widespread and well-organized vaccination program. The World Bank indicates consistently high levels of investment in Israel’s healthcare system since the beginning of the state. As early as 1961, Israel had the highest life expectancy rates among countries with similar median incomes. Additionally, life expectancy rates in Israel is age 83, one of the highest in the world.
Israel and Pharma
Israel is at the cutting edge of healthcare technology, and US-based pharmaceutical companies have recognized this. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a roadmap to advance greater collaboration in health technology and innovation between the U.S. and Israel.
In the spirit of this initiative, the Israeli government reached an agreement with Pfizer to share data with the pharmaceutical company in exchange for vaccines provided for all Israelis over the age of 16 by the end of March.
In return for weekly shipments of 100,000 to 500,000 doses of vaccines, Israel provided Pfizer with information about side effects, development of antibodies, and efficacy. Israel currently has vaccinated half of its population and continues to incentivize those who have not yet been vaccinated with “green passports” that allow those who are vaccinated to attend live performances and participate in other group activities.
Invest In Israel
With the success of Israel’s vaccination rollout, economists predict a robust recovery for the Startup Nation. Bank Leumi Le-Israel economists including chief economist Gil Bufman predicts 4.9% economic growth and 7% if the vaccination holds, as reported by Bloomberg.
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