Report presents an article of Ambassador of Israel to Azerbaijan George Deek titled “Operation ‘Back to Life’: How Israel is Leading the World’s Vaccination Campaign”.

“Not since the Spanish Flu in 1918, did the world face a pandemic of such magnitude, as it does today, with the Coronavirus COVID-19. The efforts to combat this pandemic are in many ways global, since this virus – and its devastating effects to the economies and public health – knows no borders. These days we enter a new phase in this fight – the chapter of vaccinations, in which Israel has emerged as a leading nation.

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 March.

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.