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A Spotlight On Israel's Rollout Of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine, Why Some Have Privacy Concerns

A Spotlight On Israel's Rollout Of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine, Why Some Have Privacy Concerns

Israel has been hailed for its success with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, claiming the honors of having the highest per-capita vaccine administration in the world. It's moving vigorously ahead with the target of getting 80% of the country's 9.2 million people vaccinated by May.

Israel Government Drumbeats Success: The government and media are hyping up the success the nation has had with vaccination.

For those in power, a higher rate of vaccine administration brings the possibility of opening up the economy in a big way, kickstarting growth after the swoon witnessed in the course of the pandemic.

Preliminary estimates released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics in February showed that the domestic economy contracted by a less-than-feared 2.4% in 2020.

This was the worst performance since the state of Israel came into being in 1948. If not for the resilience shown by exports and consumer spending, the contraction would have been worse.

The Drive That Hastened Adoption: In mid-November, Israel contracted with U.S. health care company Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and its German partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) for the supply of 8 million doses of the combine's vaccine, which has received regulatory approval for emergency use in several nations.

Those who have received both doses of the vaccine and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 are allowed to download a Ministry of Health app that issues a unique QR code. This code is intended to serve as a passport for citizens to access public places such as gyms, theaters, restaurants and bars.

The whole vaccination process has been streamlined, from being notified through a text message, to booking for both doses through a link provided in the text message to reminders for non-responders.

The vaccination process is digitized, with patient data input on a smartphone app. The inoculated individuals are sent a link through text message to report any adverse reactions. 

The urgency shown by the government in pulling in those staying on the fence has been to get as many people vaccinated as possible to attain herd immunity before mutant strains begin to inflict further damage to lives and the economy.

Is Israel really the poster child of the global vaccination drive? As is always the case, there are two sides to the story: there has been disgruntlement among a section of the population who see the endeavor as being forced on them. 

Related Link: Pfizer Expects COVID-19 Vaccine To Bring $15B In Revenue This Year

Pushback To Pfizer Deal Grows: Questions are now being raised by some quarters regarding the administration of the vaccine.

The government released an epidemiological collaboration agreement between Israel and Pfizer Jan. 17 with some details redacted. 

Israel's sharing of government health information with Pfizer has led to some citizens voicing privacy concerns, according to The Washington Post

The document shows the parties have agreed to share de-identified data regarding vaccination compliance in a real-world context to evaluate whether herd immunity protection is observed during the vaccination program rollout.

Another point of contention is the government's proposed plan to begin vaccinating children ages 12-16.

Some adolescents who have underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus infection have already reportedly been vaccinated. 

In the U.S., Pfizer's emergency use authorization is for ages 16 years and above, and the company has yet to commence a pediatric trial to expand the label to include younger children.

Comments by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in an NBC interview that Israel can be considered as the world's lab have not gone over well with everyone. 

Bourla based his statement on the fact that Israel is using only Pfizer's vaccine and that a relatively higher proportion of the population is vaccinated.

Related Link: Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccination Could Protect Pregnant Women, Newborns, Study In Israel Suggests:

What's Next: Israelis went to the polls Tuesday to elect members to its Parliament — the Knesset — in a snap election.

The ruling party coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is banking big on the success thus far achieved with the vaccination drive.

The election results are expected to shed more light on the country's perception of the inoculation campaign.


Related Articles (PFE + BNTX)

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