Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is Israel's light at the end of the tunnel

Overall, though, there is room for optimism. Most Israelis abide by the government-mandated regulations and listen to what authorities tell them is permitted and forbidden.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum, December 12, 2020. (photo credit: DANI SHEM TOV/KNESSET SPOKESPERSONS OFFICE)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum, December 12, 2020.
(photo credit: DANI SHEM TOV/KNESSET SPOKESPERSONS OFFICE)
Israel took a step closer to extricating itself from the coronavirus pandemic after the first shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday aboard a DHL cargo flight that had originated in Brussels.
“What is important to me is that Israelis get vaccinated. I believe in vaccines.... I intend to be the first in Israel to be vaccinated,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was at the airport to receive the batch, said.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein took the opportunity to thank Israeli medical teams that have been working to fight the spread of the virus, saying that they would soon receive the vaccine and that he would supervise its distribution.
“With God’s help, we will see an end to the virus crisis; we see light at the end of the tunnel,” the health minister said, while urging the public to keep following regulations even as the vaccine becomes available.
This very well could be the “light at the end of the tunnel” as Edelstein said, even though – as Health Ministry officials have pointed out – it could take months for the number of Israelis inoculated to begin reaching a sizable mass.
The arrival of the country’s first vaccines comes as Israel is experiencing a spike in coronavirus infections. On Wednesday, the ministry said that 1,719 new coronavirus infections had been recorded the day before out of 69,778 tests that were administered – a 2.5% positivity rate. This brings the total number of active patients in the country to 14,905. The death toll is also quickly inching up on 3,000.
Overall, though, there is room for optimism. Most Israelis abide by the government-mandated regulations and listen to what authorities tell them is permitted and forbidden.
Nevertheless, the government could do a better job at transmitting clearer guidelines and instructions to the public, and the flip-flop this week on the night curfew is a perfect example.
On Monday night, the coronavirus cabinet, led by Netanyahu, decided to impose a curfew across the country. On Tuesday, the initiative was supposed to be brought to the full cabinet for a vote by ministers, who started to voice opposition. In addition, the attorney-general warned of legal obstacles along the way. As a result, late Tuesday night, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that it was postponing the cabinet meeting. By Wednesday evening, the cabinet had not yet met, and the curfew idea seemed to have been taken off the nation’s agenda.
This is problematic because – as has been stated before – the public needs a steady, stable government to explain what it is doing with clarity and common sense. Unfortunately, that has never really been the case over the last nine months. Politics, populism and the private interests of different politicians or social groups have prevented the government from outlining a clear plan for how people can effectively combat the spread of the virus. This is how we saw haredi schools reopen when others didn’t, or Arab-Israelis continue to hold mass weddings when other people did not.
The lessons of this need to be internalized ahead of the inoculation of Israelis. Netanyahu took a positive step on Wednesday announcing that he will be the first Israeli to receive the vaccine, to show Israelis that it is safe and can be trusted. To ensure that the largest number of Israelis follow suit, the government should now – alongside refining the storage and distribution process – put in place a PR campaign that explains what is happening, why the vaccine is necessary and what it will do for an individual and the entire country.
If the vaccines work as expected, Israel and the rest of the world could be on their way to defeating this virus that has taken over every aspect of our lives – school, education, travel, work and leisure.
Everyone has been affected by COVID-19, but for now, we need to continue to hold the line – to wear masks, social distance and continue to take precautions. The arrival of the first batch of vaccines is a positive step. Hopefully, it is the beginning of the end of this harrowing period of time.


Tags Pfizer