"Service to the world"- The amazing vaccination campaign that has turned Israel into a global research field.
Israel is leading the world right now in its current rate of inoculation – and all of the eyes of the scientific world are looking at Israel to see how the population responds. The collected data usage of our HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) can teach us whether or not vaccines can reduce the rate and risk of infection, as well as which vaccinated people will have side effects, and more.
Israel has a few advantages in the vaccination campaign; the percentage of residents over the age of 65 is one of the lowest in the OECD, which allows for a rapid vaccination of the population at risk. In addition, Israel’s small population enjoys a statewide equal health insurance law that determines the basket of services to which every citizen is entitled – including vaccinations, provided free of charge. As well, residents are divided amongst HMOs, that are all maintaining and documenting medical information about the insured.
It is important to note that in a democracy like Israel, vaccination is not mandatory. And those who do not want to get vaccinated are in the minority.
The medical information of Israeli residents is a resource that has been collected, documented, nurtured and maintained with care and skill for decades. From simple blood tests to advanced readings of MRI scans, pain complaints to the family doctor as well as the results of advanced surgeries, from the day of birth until death – everything is stored on the computers of the Israeli health system.
Another huge advantage is the fact that Israel is the only country where every vaccine is linked to a medical file and information that goes back for years. It provides formidable assets for medical research, a few of them as follows.
- Side effects- once there is a huge amount of data on the vaccinated, one can easily identify cases of rare side effects that are common to vaccine recipients, and if those who suffered from them had any common denominator.
- There is also long-term follow-up – it could be that in three years, the data will inform us of something that would otherwise be difficult to identify and explain. For example, we could see that there was an increase in Alzheimer’s disease among those who received the vaccine, or whether or not there was legitimacy to claims of possible infertility. In Israel, it will be possible to know fairly quickly if this is a justified concern.
- Another advantage of the Israeli databases is the ethnic diversity that they provide. Israeli society is very heterogeneous and includes people from a variety of religions and communities. This makes its genetic and medical pool interesting, diverse and very wide ranged.
Israel is quickly becoming the “case-study” of the world
According to Dr. Daniel Cohen from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem: “All this is a result of a state health law. The HMOs, which are not for-profit organizations, know how to reach every insured. “If the United States is now facing an inefficiency of a private health system and a lack of data, in Israel there is not only a division into age groups – but also risk situations.
Cohen explains that Israel has another advantage over the world in managing the multifocal vaccine system: “Over the years, the HMOs have been prepared for such scenarios with exercises on how to deal with an unusual biological event. They know at a planning level how to quickly establish national vaccine centers around the country.”
The model of state health insurance law works differently in the other countries where it exists. In the United Kingdom for example, there is a regional management structure, compared to Israel, which operates on the basis of competitive HMOs.
Israel is one of the first countries in the world to receive a primary stock of vaccines. And despite the high price it paid for the vaccine doses ($30 for one dose of the Pfizer vaccine), Israel is perhaps the country most likely to come out on the other side of the ‘corona tunnel’.
But this cannot only be attributed to the success of the system, but also a built-in public interest. According to Dr. Cohen, “When it comes to vaccines, we are a ‘dream state.’
Cohen says that in the utopian book “Altneuland”, authored by the founder of the State, Theodore Herzl, he described that the Jewish country should establish a ‘Vaccine Development Institute.
“Public health and vaccines are deeply rooted in the ethos of the Zionist movement. A company like Pfizer has much to gain from prioritizing Israel in the first instance. A success story, and of course to learn from the HMOs close monitoring of side effects and the success of the vaccine, in a way that will form the basis for continued vaccination campaigns around the world.”
After an operation of just one week, Israel reaches the highest rate of immunization in the world per capita – almost two million Israelis have already been vaccinated.
This is a national challenge, and both hospitals and paramedics in the IDF provide assistance to aid the HMOs in this vaccination campaign.
So in how long is Israel expected to vaccinate the entire population?
Israel enjoys a relatively small and young population, and a state health system that is able to quickly vaccinate large sections of the population. By the end of March 2021, Israel will be vaccinated and the economy will be able to gradually return to routine.
On a personal note, like for all of humanity, COVID-19 has caused countless businesses to close around the world. I sincerely hope that the vaccines will be the solution to this terrible pandemic and I am very happy that my country has a significant contribution in resolving the crisis.
So keep it in mind that Israel will open its gates to tourists in the coming months as a green and healthy country. Let’s all stay safe in the meantime.
For questions and wondering about the Vaccination Campaign in Israel you are welcome to contact me.
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