During a press conference with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects all Israelis over the age of 16 to be vaccinated by March with a full reopening of the country by April.
Considered one of the world’s “swiftest campaigns,” Israel has administered at least one shot to almost 50 percent of their population of over nine million, reports Reuters. Additionally, at least one third of the population has been fully vaccinated, states Times of Israel.
“There are over a million Israeli adults who have not even gotten one vaccine dose and could still fall seriously ill and God forbid die. All over the world people are waiting for vaccines. In Israel, vaccines are waiting for people. We need to change that now,” Netanyahu said.
Despite the optimistic outlook, there are several key hurdles the country will need to surpass before reaching such a possibility, the first and most consequential, the Purim holiday which takes place this weekend.
Facing a high infection rate of over 4000 citizens a day, the Prime Minister urged Israelis not violate the heightened restrictions put in place as the government reflects on the sharp increase in Covid-19 infections that took place over last year’s Purim holiday.
“This can’t repeat itself,” Netanyahu stated. “We can be happy, we can dress up, but we must observe the rules.”
Outlining a five stage approach in an effort to meet the April opening, the first goal stage will be to get through the Purim holiday safely; the second being a gradual opening of the education system in the second week of March; the third entailing an expansion of the “green pass” system; fourth, the vaccination of all Israelis over 16 by the end of March; and fifth: to reach the full opening of Israel by April, reported The Times of Israel.
Seeking reelection in late March, the prime minister stated he has been in contact with both Moderna and Pfizer, two American pharmaceutical companies leading production of Covid-19 vaccinations, in order to open up factories within Israel.
“We are going to establish two factories here that will make Israel part of the global vaccine supply chain,” Netanyahu stated.