Coronavirus knows no borders, as has become all too clear, and countries the world over are all facing the same
challenges to public health and their economies. From the outset of the pandemic, Israel emerged as a leading nation in
the global fight against coronavirus, learning from the experiences of others and sharing its own with the world. It
made the tough choices early on – closingA borders and schools, shuttering businesses, and limiting all non-essential
activities – and sustained a burst of innovation surrounding the pandemic that included start-ups and drive-through
testing centers through to telemedicine and vaccine research. Israel’s success in responding to the pandemic has
continued into 2021, and the country now boasts the highest per capita vaccination rate of any country in the world,
outpacing all others by far.
Israel began its vaccination drive in late December 2020, and within just the first two days of the campaign, nearly
30,000 Israelis were already given their first dose. Now, just a few weeks later, over 1.8 million Israelis have
received their vaccination shot, and the country is on track to vaccinate all citizens over the age of 16 by the end of
This speedy and ambitious target has been made possible through a new deal that Israel inked with pharmaceutical
companies in early January. Dubbed ‘Operation Back to Life’, Israel is set to receive ongoing shipments of the vaccine
over the coming months, which will enable the country to reach its bold target and become one of the first countries in
the world to exit from the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, by sharing its statistical data with Pfizer and the world,
Israel will also play a key role in demonstrating the efficacy of the vaccine and developing global strategies to
overcome the pandemic.
In fact, Israel's small population of some nine million and its highly efficient public health system mean that the
country is going to play an essential role for pharmaceutical companies. The success and experience of our vaccination
campaign will be used to provide the critical information that pharmaceutical companies need in order to make the
vaccine even more effective for other countries. By being the first country in the world to vaccinate its entire
population with the novel vaccine, Israel will serve as the world's key experimental subject. Israel’s universal
healthcare system is globally recognized for its efficiency and effectiveness.
Israel has developed a sophisticated and high-quality level of individual patient care, and all Israeli citizens and
permanent residents are guaranteed healthcare under the country’s National Health Insurance Law. All Israelis can choose
from four comprehensive not-for-profit health plans that provide a standardized basket of medical services, and each
provider must accept all residents regardless of age or state of health. Combined, there are thousands of clinics spread
across the country, ensuring that each and every local community is served. Moreover, its national healthcare services
enjoy a uniquely advanced level of digitization, which will make Israel's data particularly important to pharmaceutical
companies. Israel's extensive national network of medical services lies within the Ministry of Health’s purview.
It was this comprehensive system of doctors, nurses, and medics that rapidly mobilized in response to the coronavirus
pandemic, and which is now working towards vaccinating the entire country within a matter of months. In fact, Israel's
constant and daily battle with existential threats meant that it was especially well-placed to handle an emergency of
the magnitude that coronavirus brought on. The entirety of Israel's national systems thus coalesced around the crisis.
The Prime Minister arranged multiple conversations with Pfizer's CEO to secure a steady supply of vaccinations. Magen
David Adom – Israel's national emergency response service – continues to be at the forefront of the pandemic, having now
been tasked with the responsibility of vaccinating the residents and employees of nursing homes and assisted living
centers across the country. The IDF similarly mobilized, assisting in administrating quarantine hotels and supplying
food to families in lockdown at the height of the pandemic, and now dedicating its own paramedics and military reserves
to the current vaccination push. It is thus that Israel holds the world record for its vaccination rate and will be able
to rapidly complete its inoculation drive.
With these extraordinary efforts, it is Israel’s hope that on this year’s Passover Seder night, grandparents, parents,
children, and grandchildren will be able to gather together around the table once again. And when we ask the traditional
question of why this night is different from all other nights, we will be able to answer: “Everything has changed;
tonight we are all reclining”.