Israel gives two doses of vaccine to more than half of its population

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More than half of the Israeli population has been fully vaccinated with two doses of protection against Covid-19, the health minister announced today.

Israel’s rapid progress means that more than 4.6 million people have had two injections and are eligible for a so-called ‘green pass’ in a plan that is being closely watched by other countries.

About 60 percent have had a first dose, the highest for any country in the world and one of the few for the UK, where 41 percent have had an injection.

Studies of the real Israeli data have shown that the jabs both reduce the number of symptomatic cases and appear to reduce the transmission of the virus.

Israel has given two doses of vaccine to more than half of its population – more than 4.6 million people in total – in the world’s fastest injection program. These figures from Our World In Data also show the UK’s level with France in second doses despite the UK’s first dose priority

Cases have fallen sharply since Israel's winter peak, with studies linking the country's vaccination success to a decline in virus transmission

Cases have fallen sharply since Israel’s winter peak, with studies linking the country’s vaccination success to a decline in virus transmission

Deaths have also declined as vaccines reduce the number of people getting sick

Deaths have also declined as vaccines reduce the number of people getting sick

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein celebrated the milestone today, but called on citizens to ‘follow health guidelines so that the coronavirus does not return’.

Israel counts Palestinians in East Jerusalem among its population and has offered them vaccines, but is criticized for not doing more to help the Palestinians.

Palestinian health officials have launched a more limited vaccination campaign in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank using doses provided by Israel, Russia, the UAE and the global COVAX program.

Israel has vaccinated more than 100,000 Palestinian workers with permits to enter Israel or Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But a survey by a Palestinian research center released Tuesday found that only 55 percent of Palestinians were willing to take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

In Israel, some officials privately estimate that 10 percent of the eligible population does not intend to get vaccinated.

Israel began relaxing a nationwide lockdown in late February, with most businesses and schools gradually resuming operations with limited capacity.

Along with the people who have been fully vaccinated, an additional 8.7 percent of the population is believed to be immune after having previously recovered from Covid-19.

As a result, the majority of the population is eligible for the so-called ‘green pass’ certificates that give access to various leisure facilities.

People sit on a sidewalk cafe in Jerusalem after Israeli authorities reopen restaurants, bars and cafes for 'green pass' vaccinated people

People sit on a sidewalk cafe in Jerusalem after Israeli authorities reopen restaurants, bars and cafes for ‘green pass’ vaccinated people

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man receives his second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine at a medical center in a synagogue in Bnei Brak, Israel

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man receives his second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine at a medical center in a synagogue in Bnei Brak, Israel

Hezi Levi, the director general of the Israeli Ministry of Health, estimates that the entire adult population will be fully vaccinated by the end of May.

About a third of the country is under the age of 16 and cannot be vaccinated until the shot is deemed safe for children.

This month, the Department of Health said recovered Covid-19 patients could be vaccinated with a single shot administered at least three months after recovery.

According to Eran Segal, a data scientist at Israel’s Weizmann Institue of Science, the number of daily Covid-19 deaths in Israel has fallen 85 percent since the third wave peak in January.

There is also a 72 percent drop in the number of critically ill patients and there are 86 percent fewer daily coronavirus cases, Segal says.

On Thursday, Israel’s positivity rate was 1.1 percent, down from nearly six percent a month ago, according to the Ministry of Health.

In addition, there were 482 patients in severe condition Thursday, compared to more than 800 at the end of February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped to lead Israel's vaccination success to victory in this month's election, but the results showed that his path to a government coalition remained unclear.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped to lead Israel’s vaccination success to victory in this month’s election, but the results showed that his path to a government coalition remained unclear.

Despite criticism of Israel for no longer doing to facilitate vaccination among Palestinians, some of those working in Israel started receiving doses earlier this month

Despite criticism of Israel for no longer doing to facilitate vaccination among Palestinians, some of those working in Israel started receiving doses earlier this month

A real-world study published in February found that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the number of symptomatic cases in Israel by 94 percent.

Other research suggested that the same vaccine had greatly reduced transmission, shedding light on one of the biggest questions of the vaccine race.

Israel has seen three lockdowns and 6,157 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The government had faced public frustration over the unequal enforcement of health restrictions among the ultra-Orthodox population.

But Israel quickly leaped forward in the vaccine race after starting injections of the Pfizer shot in December.

Israel, which has one of the world’s most advanced medical data systems, has secured a significant supply of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine by entering into a data-sharing agreement with the drug giant.

The Israeli government has not confirmed speculation that it paid too much to obtain its free-flowing stockpile of vaccines.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped the country’s success in the vaccination race would lead him to victory in this week’s election, the fourth in two years.

Netanyahu’s Likud party won the most seats, but the political deadlock in the country seemed unresolved as his path to a ruling majority was uncertain.