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Israel leads world in vaccines


January 8, 2021

Haim Zach/GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (directly to his left), greeting Jabarin Muhammad (seated), the millionth citizen to receive the coronavirus vaccine, in Umm al-Fahm, Jan. 1, 2021.

(JNS) - Israel vaccinated its millionth citizen against COVID-19 on Friday, just three days after announcing the 500,000th Israeli had received the first dose of the vaccine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein were on hand in Umm al-Fahm to meet Arab-Israeli Jabarin Muhammad, 66, in the presence of Mayor Samir Sobhi Mahameed, Clalit Healthcare Services chairman Harel Locker, Maccabi Healthcare Services chairman Ran Saar and Ayman Saif, the official responsible for coronavirus affairs in the Arab sector.

"We are breaking all of the records," said Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office. "We are ahead of the entire world ... moving forward at great speed in order to vaccinate the entire population."

According to the website Our World in Data, based at Oxford University, Israel's per capita vaccination rate far outpaces the rest of the world-more than three times that of Bahrain, the country with the second-highest rate.

As soon as the number of vaccinations reaches "critical mass," said Netanyahu, "we will be able to open commerce, stores and restaurants; we will be able to fly abroad, to make deals and travel to all the countries that we have made peace with," referring to the recent normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

The health minister lauded the "great achievement" of vaccinating a million Israelis.

"With God's help, Israel will be the first country in the world to be vaccinated," said Edelstein. "Within a few months, we will be able to say 'hasta la vista' to the coronavirus and return to normality," he added.

When it comes to COVID-19, he said, "We are all in this together. There is no difference between Jews and Arabs, religious and secular."

However, he added, "we are not there yet, and we must strictly adhere to the directives. It is a pity for each person who, instead of being at home, is in serious condition in a hospital coronavirus ward. Let us make another effort to emerge from this with ... without the virus running amok again."

Israel began its third nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Dec. 27 due to a steep rise in the COVID-19 infection rate. The move, however, was not without controversy, even within the medical community.

The country's Public Emergency Council for the Coronavirus Crisis, which is made up of medical experts and senior researchers, has called into question the data upon which the decision to implement the current lockdown was based.

In a letter to the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the experts wrote that this information "is riddled with 'alternative facts' and irrelevant data, which ... can only be defined as irresponsible, partial and unprofessional."

Another controversy surrounds Jabarin Muhammad, the millionth citizen to be vaccinated-according to a report by Israel's Kan Newsfollowing the release of a photo of the event in Umm al-Fahm, Muhammad served a prison sentence more than 20 years ago after being convicted of murdering two people.


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