COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine and syringe with the Israeli flag. Photo from Adobe Stock by Feydzhet Shabanov.

By Mark Choy
For Mitzpeh

Israel’s vaccine program leads the global effort, with 40.5% of its population already completely vaccinated. Its centralized effort and relationship with Pfizer appear to be paying dividends.

Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only 10.6% of the U.S. population has received the two doses.

Why has vaccine delivery between the two countries varied so much?

The reason behind Israel’s success lies within the agreement between Israel’s Ministry of Health and Pfizer-BioNTech.

A win-win arrangement between Israel and Pfizer is putting Israel’s vaccine delivery ahead of the U.S. by a huge margin, which was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January.

“Israel will be a global model state,” he said. “Israel will share with Pfizer and with the entire world the statistical data that will help develop strategies for defeating the coronavirus.”

Israel also paid more for the Pfizer vaccines, granting the country a steady supply for its citizens. Netanyahu plans to have everyone over the age of 16 in Israel inoculated by the end of March.

This ambitious goal does not seem unwarranted. Israel’s effective vaccination methods as well as the continuous support from Pfizer allows them to work at an unprecedented rate. A massive vaccine center was even constructed in Jerusalem to allow citizens to quickly get vaccinated and move on to the next citizen, which gives Pfizer the ability to deliver large quantities of doses to a singular location.

Because Israel gives data to Pfizer, it has become somewhat of a testing ground. Information such as the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine has already been reported by Israel’s Health Ministry, with whom Pfizer has an open relationship.

Data shows the Pfizer vaccine to be 99.2% preventative against serious complications, and that it prevents 98.9% of COVID-19 deaths.

Israel is ahead of the U.S. not only because they have the full backing of Pfizer, but also because it has the advantages of being a smaller population. Israel’s population is only 9 million, whereas the U.S. is 330 million — a large difference that can manifest in largely different vaccination efforts. 

Additionally, environmental factors, like the recent snowstorm in Texas and the Midwest, have delayed the delivery of 6 million vaccines across the U.S.  

The disorganization of individual states and lack of centralized government support also has a significant impact. Although the U.S. government had helped with much of the development of the vaccines, the rollout process has been up to the states. A report from last October estimated that states would need an additional $8.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccination distribution amid the need for extra funding for seasonal flu vaccinations. 

Each state differs in its capabilities to distribute vaccines. For example, states like New Mexico have administered 99.8% of their vaccines, whereas Alabama has only administered 73.3%.

States that are slow to vaccinate may struggle with an inconsistent supply chain. Distribution sites around the U.S. often do not know how many doses they will have on a weekly basis, and so states that struggle to properly set up appointments for the many people seeking vaccines.

Many who are eligible and seeking vaccines in the U.S. often wait hours in their cars just for the chance of getting a dose. Others may get turned away because the sites do not have enough vaccinations to give.

Because the U.S. does not have the same support from Pfizer, consistent supply and effective delivery method, its vaccination efforts pale in comparison to Israel’s.


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