JERUSALEM | Israel on Thursday passed the milestone of two million people who received their first dose of vaccine against the new coronavirus, with the high-profile vaccination of a nursery nurse in the center of the country attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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“I am the two millionth,” said a small sign in the hands of the Israeli who received her first injection Thursday in the city of Ramla, near Tel Aviv.
At his side, Mr. Netanyahu, currently in an election campaign, assured that Israel would be “the first country to emerge from the corona crisis”.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said the Israeli Prime Minister, who himself launched the ambitious vaccination campaign on December 19, live on television.
In early January, health authorities estimated that two million people would have received the double injection of the vaccine against the new coronavirus by the end of January.
But as of Thursday, only 150,000 people had received the two doses.
The Minister of Health, Yuli Edelstein, for his part announced that the first doses of vaccine would be distributed in the prisons “next week”.
Israel had been the target of criticism after Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana said Palestinian prisoners would receive the vaccines last.
For Mr. Edelstein, “an unvaccinated prisoner who would be sick would cost the state dearly”.
The minister specified that he would not decide who would be vaccinated first in the prisons, “a medical commission decides whether we like it or not”.
About 4,400 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails and according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 190 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus since April.
In parallel with the vigorous vaccination campaign, Israel is recording an upsurge in the number of cases of infected people, with around 9,000 new patients recorded daily.
Netanyahu on Thursday called on the Israelis to “follow security guidelines,” as strict containment is in place for the third time since the start of the pandemic.
The government hopes for an end to the crisis in early March, just before the legislative news on March 23.
In total, more than 523,000 people have been officially infected with the virus in Israel and around 3,850 have died, according to the latest health ministry report.