Israel will RUN OUT of Pfizer vaccine doses amid fears that slow pace of vaccination programmes and supply shortages will sabotage global recovery
- Israel has already given a dose of the vaccine to 800,000 of its 8.7million people
- United States is second in the per-capita table, followed by UK, Israel, Germany
- UK today became the first in the world to approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot
The health minister said the country, which has seen nine per cent of its population already given the jab in just 11 days, will pause the drive for three weeks in January.
It comes after fears that the Pfizer vaccine would run out within 10 days at its current rate as Israel has the highest proportion of its population vaccinated.
Israel is set to run out of Pfizer/BioNTech doses amid fears that the slow pace of the vaccination programme and supply shortages will sabotage the global recovery
Some 800,000 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in the country of 8.7million, the highest per-capita rate in the world.
The rapid rollout in a country that prides itself on self-reliance comes after Israel’s health minister ordered a 24/7 vaccination drive, hundreds of military medics were drafted in to help with the effort and the country ordered shots from all three of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca in advance.
The vaccine drive saw 30 per cent of the over 60s vaccinated with everyone in the age range set to be inoculated within 10 days.
The US has given out the second most vaccines outright after injecting more than 2.79million people, but president-elect Joe Biden has criticised delays in the rollout
However, while vaccinations continue at a rate of more than 100,000 per day, Israel’s health minister has announced first doses will be paused between January 10 and 31 to ensure people who have already received the first dose will get their second jab, according to The Telegraph.
Meanwhile Israel is expected to launch a so-called ‘green passport’ scheme in January which means people immunised against Covid-19 will avoid having to quarantine if they travel from abroad or come into contact with a virus patient.
The country had aimed to open the vaccination programme to the public within a week however the pause may push it back by up to six weeks, according to Channel 12 news.
The US has given out the second most vaccines outright after injecting more than 2.79million people, but president-elect Joe Biden has criticised delays in the rollout.
Britain is third after handing out 944,539 doses in barely two weeks by December 30 – with the UK set to ramp up its vaccine drive after the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Meanwhile Bahrain is seventh and is using the Sinopharm vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical giant of the same name, which says the jab is 79 per cent effective.
Europe started its own programme at the weekend after an EU regulator finally approved the Pfizer jab, with Portugal and Denmark making the fastest progress on the continent so far.
An Israeli military medic prepares to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a medical centre in Rishion LeZion on Monday
Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm said today that its Covid-19 vaccine was 79 per cent effective in Phase III trials.
China has already given out over a million vaccines under an emergency use programme, but Sinopharm’s announcement is the first data on the efficacy of a Chinese vaccine.
But China, where the coronavirus first surfaced last year, has struggled to gain international trust for its vaccine candidates, hindered by a lack of transparency on test results.
It has also been slow to complete Phase III trials, which had to be conducted abroad due to China’s success at curbing the spread of Covid-19 within its own borders.
But Bahrain and the UAE have both approved Sinopharm vaccines, with Beijing vowing to share its products at a relatively low cost to poorer Asian countries.
Sinopharm has applied to China’s drug regulator for approval of the vaccine, a statement said.
China plans to vaccinate millions this winter in the run-up to Lunar New Year, and officials have vowed to ramp up vaccine production capacity to more than one billion doses next year.
While the 79 per cent figure is lower than the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna jabs, the Sinopharm product does not require the -70C temperatures needed to store the Pfizer jab, a near-impossible logistical challenge in many developing countries.
It gives China a diplomatic tool after facing widespread criticism led by the US and Australia over its handling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan.
Chinese health authorities this week said data from antibodies circulating in Wuhan suggests the number of cases in the epicentre of the pandemic may be 10 times higher than previously reported.
Israel’s health minister said on Wednesday that nearly 152,000 people had been vaccinated in a day, bringing the total well above half a million.
The 794,200 people vaccinated are already more numerous than the 423,262 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Israel.
After two national lockdowns and more than 3,000 deaths, Israel began its mass vaccination programme on December 20 after PM Benjamin Netanyahu became the first citizen to get the jab.
The prime minister said he aimed to have a target of 2.25million of the population vaccinated by the end of January.
Netanyahu, who has self-isolated three times after being exposed to Covid carriers, has called for more than two million people to be vaccinated within a month.
‘This is the critical stage, the first stage, because here is the population at risk, all the medical teams, all of the people over 60,’ he said.
‘As soon as we are done with this stage, within 30 days we can emerge from the coronavirus, open the economy and do things that no country can do.’
While only the Pfizer jab has been used so far, Israel also has shipments of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines on order.
Israel’s justice ministry also announced it had asked Facebook to take down false anti-vaccine content as the government tries to drum up support for the programme.
Four Hebrew-language groups were removed for publishing texts, photographs and videos with ‘deliberately mendacious content designed to mislead about coronavirus vaccines’.
The fake news included spurious claims that vaccines would be used to plant government tracking chips in recipients’ bodies, poison them or subject them to medical experimentation.
Israel is followed in the global league table by Germany, where 131,626 people had been vaccinated out of a population of 83million by Thursday evening.
China has struggled to gain trust for its vaccine candidates, hindered by a lack of transparency on test results, but it has been approved in Bahrain and the UAE.
It has also been slow to complete Phase 3 trials, which had to be conducted abroad due to China’s success at curbing the spread of Covid-19 within its own borders.
However, 4.5 million people have already been given vaccine doses in China under its emergency use programme.
They include frontline health workers, state-owned enterprise employees and workers planning to travel abroad.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli to get the vaccine on December 19, rolling up his sleeves at a medical centre in Ramat Gan
China plans to vaccinate millions more this winter in the run-up to Lunar New Year, and officials have vowed to ramp up capacity to more than one billion doses.
Beijing has pledged to share its vaccines at a relatively low cost – a potential boost for poorer Asian countries who are otherwise reliant on limited distribution offered by a global scheme.
Third in the global vaccine race is Britain, which approved the Pfizer jab before its EU neighbours or the United States.
Today the UK became the first to approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which unlike the Pfizer jab can be stored at normal fridge temperatures.
This means the Oxford vaccine is easier to roll out to places such as care homes and GP surgeries, paving the way for an even larger vaccination programme.
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme deliveries will be ramped up ‘very rapidly’ in the first and second week of January.
He added: ‘We will start delivering this week – maybe today or tomorrow we will be shipping our first doses.
‘The vaccination will start next week and we will get to one million a week and beyond that very rapidly.
‘We can go to two million. In January we will already possibly be vaccinating several million people and by the end of the first quarter we are going to be in the tens of millions already.’
Bahrain, where a woman is pictured receiving a vaccine in Manama last week, has approved both the Pfizer jab and another shot developed by Chinese firm Sinopharm
Asked whether two million vaccinations per week is possible, health secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio: ‘That’s absolutely deliverable by the NHS.’
In the US, the 2.79million people vaccinated so far are well short of a Trump administration target to immunise 20million people before the end of 2020.
President-elect Joe Biden criticised Trump’s vaccine rollout on Tuesday, warning it would take years at the current rate to deliver the necessary shots.
‘As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,’ Biden said.
Biden’s goal of ensuring that 100 million shots are administered by the end of his 100th day in office would mean ‘ramping up five to six times the current pace to one million shots a day,’ he added.
Earlier in the day, Biden’s vice president-elect Kamala Harris received her Moderna vaccine live on television in a bid to boost confidence.
Biden, 78, received his first dose of the vaccine last week and has vowed to make the pandemic his top priority when he takes office on January 20.
But Dr Atul Gawande, a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, told CBS News the transition team still did not have all the information it needed to understand the bottlenecks hampering vaccine distribution.
‘The realistic picture is to expect it could be fall before … enough people are being vaccinated that we’re getting back to normal and that it might be summer before the general public is really accessing the vaccine,’ he said.
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