Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he needs just twelve more weeks to vaccinate the entire country, after reaching an agreement with Pfizer that will speed up deliveries into Israel of the US company’s coronavirus vaccine.
We will be the first country to emerge from the coronavirus. The agreement I reached with Pfizer allows us to vaccinate all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March, and perhaps even before that. In other words, we will vaccinate the entire population; anyone who wants to be vaccinated, will be,” he said in a televised statement Thursday evening.
Netanyahu, who is due in court Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea in his trial on corruption charges, is quickly making Israel’s vaccination program the key plank of his re-election campaign. He faces the voters on March 23 -- just four days before the Passover Seder, one of the most important nights in the Jewish calendar.
“We can do this because our health care system is one of the most advanced in the world, a real light to the Gentiles. On the upcoming Seder night, with the help of the God, we will be able to gather around the holiday table with grandparents, with father and mother, children and grandchildren. When we ask what has changed this night, the answer will be: everything has changed, this night we are all together.”
New tougher regulations come into effect across the country at midnight tonight (5pET) in an effort to bring down what have been rapidly rising numbers of new cases. Netanyahu called on Israelis to make “one last big effort” and stick to the stricter closure rules.