Many of us find ourselves comparing our own countries’ COVID-19 vaccination rate data with those of other countries around the world. One country in particular stands out.
According to news out on 21 February 2021, Israel has already inoculated very close to half of its population with a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a number far beyond any other country.
How did Israel manage to be so quick? Two important factors seem to have played a part in its success.
Firstly, the vaccines’ availability has been guaranteed by an agreement with Pfizer: Israeli officials share with Pfizer anonymised epidemiological data, that will in turn help the pharmaceutical company access relevant statistics on the impact of the vaccine on the entire population. At first the agreement raised several transparency concerns on the type of data being shared. But the Ministry of Health reacted promptly, reassuring the public that only aggregated healthcare data would be made available for the sole purpose of research.
Secondly, the country has a technologically advanced public health system. Nearly every citizen belongs to a public medical insurance group (a Health Maintenance Organization - HMO). These groups have been storing the digital records of each Israeli’s full medical history for the last 25 years. This huge amount of accumulated medical data now paves the way for an accelerated COVID-19 vaccination campaign and enables efficient monitoring of patients and data research.
Find out more about the benefits and challenges of Israel’s longstanding history with the use of digital health data by reading this article.
If you're curious to understand where the Israeli digital health system and governance stands in comparison to other European ones (e.g. Scotland's), take a look at the two EHTEL factsheets in the “Resources” section below ⤵️