While serious questions remain regarding our rollout, Israel is leading the world in vaccinating its citizens. Tonight, a star-studded free webinar will fill in the details.
As Australia faces our own vaccine rollout, we’re not exactly sure what to do expect, and even how it will work. Last week, we asked the European Commission to review Italy’s decision to block the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine headed our way.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said losing “one shipment” would not badly affect our rollout. Morrison has set a target of October for the entire nation to be vaccinated, which means 20 million citizens would have to receive two doses each in eight months.
In February, a group of researchers uploaded their preliminary analysis and discovered that the health system would have to administer 200,000 jabs a day almost immediately, and maintain that pace for several months.
As the researchers noted, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested the rollout capacity will start at around 80,000 doses per week and increase from there. That’s 16,000 a day (over five-day weeks), well short of the required 200,000 a day. The planned peak capacity hasn’t been announced, but even back-of-the-beer-mat calculation would suggest a minimum of 167,000 vaccines per day to give two doses each to 20 million Australians in the eight months between March and October 2021. The longer it takes to reach such capacity, the higher that daily number will get — or we will not reach the target vaccination percentage this year.”
By the end of February, Israel vaccinated 55% of their population of nine million, the fastest per capita pace of any country. As The Washington Post put it, “Israel’s fastest-in-the world vaccine campaign is offering other countries the first real-life look at how mass inoculation can bend the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Last week, Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein spoke to Fairfax and outlined their ‘green pass’ policy, one that bans individuals from venues if they choose to turn down the vaccine.
“The public is very fond of it. There are some voices opposed but you really have to look at the alternatives,” Edelstein told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“If the options are to keep society and the economy closed, or open up to people who have got the vaccine, I think the answer is quite obvious.”
The pass (which was endorsed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a cappuccino and cake at a Jerusalem cafe over the weekend) is an app linked to medical files and is produced upon entry to cinemas, hotels, places of worship, gyms, swimming pools, major events et cetera. Restaurants and bars will be included as they are released from lockdown.
According to Edelstein, the risk of being “left behind” is a more effective deterrent than financial bonuses, which was apparently rejected by the minister “on the spot”.
However, Israel’s success goes deeper than societal restrictions, as the Post noted, “A rush of Israeli medical research — some emerging too fast for academic journals to keep up — reveals that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is even more effective than hoped at preventing serious disease and death, safe for nearly all adults, and almost completely free of serious side effects…the vaccine has proved so good at protecting the elderly, who are especially vulnerable, that hospital administrators here say it has all but eliminated the risk that covid-19 cases would collapse their critical care systems. Almost 90% of Israelis over 50 have been fully vaccinated.”
To add further definition to the discussion, Jewish House and JNF, in partnership with The Big Smoke and the University of Tasmania, is hosting a free online discussion with two Israel-based infection control experts with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd, who will discuss the plans for Australia’s national rollout.
Eyal Leshem, MD, DTMH – Director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases, Sheba Medical Centre and Prof Gili Regev-Yochay – Director of the Infection Prevention and Control Unit at Sheba Medical Centre will share the challenges and successes of Israel’s vaccine rollout.
Community members will have the opportunity to submit questions upon registration to be included in event moderator and Financial Review health journalist Jill Margo AM’s interview questions to our health expert speakers.
The webinar is free and will be held tonight at 8 pm. To register and submit your question, visit www.jnf.org.au/covidwebinar/