Israeli officials announced the country has immunized 7 percent of its population against COVID-19 — nearly 647,000 people, more than any other country — according to the nation’s health ministry.
The Israeli Ministry of Health lauded vaccine rollout efforts after it immunized more people in the first nine days of distribution than any other country, CNBC reported.
“We are ahead of the world in bringing and giving the vaccines. Israel is the world champion in vaccines, in first place by a lot,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said.
Professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University school of medicine and health services, Jonathon Reiner, told CNN on Thursday Israel’s successful distribution process could serve as a model for other countries seeking a more efficient rollout.
“Israel is leading the world. They are vaccinating, on a per capita basis, 15 times faster than the United States,” said Reiner, adding, “They’ve already vaccinated 20 percent of their population over the age of 60. It would be as if we had already vaccinated about 15 million Americans over the age of 60.”
U.S. officials have acknowledged disappointment at a slower than anticipated rollout of vaccines in the United States. About 2 million people have received at least one shot of a vaccine that needs two doses to be effective. Initially, the hope had been to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the year.
Though it is expected that the 2 million figure reflects some late reporting by states, U.S. officials have said they no longer expect to meet the 20 million mark.
Though Israel’s population is roughly just over the size of New Jersey, part of the country’s successful rollout is due in part to its centralized health care system, according to Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
“As someone who lived for about a decade in the U.S., I know that in the U.S., it’s much more scattered. There are probably thousands of organizations,” Segal told CNBC.