Israel has had the fastest Covid-19 vaccine rollout of any country thanks to early moves to secure significant quantities of doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. It has also been aided due to high levels of enthusiasm among its population, efficient distribution and its technologically advanced healthcare system. Website "Our World in Data" reports that Israel administered 55 doses for every 100 of its citizens up to January 30th, significantly higher than the U.S. figure of 9.4. Israel promised Pfizer a swift start to its vaccination program and that it would share data from its digitalized healthcare system in exchange for obtaining early shipments. While that has led to serious discussions about privacy in Israel, the country has effectively turned itself into one large clinical trial to determine whether the vaccines can bring an end to the pandemic.
Despite the privacy concerns raised in Israel regarding the sharing of patient data, the numbers themselves has been cause for considerable optimism so far. Official results from a trial conducted by Israel's Ministry of Health reported by The Guardian shows that out of 715,325 people fully vaccinated, just 317 fell ill a week later - 0.04 percent. Only 16 people required hospital treatment, a mere 0.002 percent of the total number who received both shots of the vaccine. Maccabi Healthcare Services carried out a second smaller study with equally encouring results. Out of 163,000 people who received two doses, 31 fell ill compared to 6,500 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in a control group of unvaccinated individuals. It takes time to build up immunity post vaccination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that the process could take several weeks. That means people can potentially fall in between shots or directly after receiving both of them.
Some countries have explored administering a single shot of the two dose vaccines to relieve pressure on their heath systems but the Israeli data shows that such a strategy could prove risky. 42 percent of seriously ill patients in the Ministry of Health study developed adverse symptoms after receiving a single shot of the vaccine while that figure was just two percent among people who received both jabs. More good news is that the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines widely rolled out in Israel are both reported to be effective against the new strains of Covid-19 that emerged in the UK and South Africa.