UK looks to Israel’s ‘speed’ for Covid vaccination rollout
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UK looks to Israel’s ‘speed’ for Covid vaccination rollout

Vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi praised Israel's ambition in immunising 1.8m people so far, as seven centres where people can get the jab are set up across England

Members of staff prepare to administer injections of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham.
Members of staff prepare to administer injections of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham.

The UK this week copied the Israeli Covid-19 vaccination model as the government unveiled seven giant vaccination centres across England to boost numbers and streamline the process.

With three in the south-east, including one at the ExCel, the new mass vaccination centres are an idea borrowed from the Jewish state, which has led the world in getting its citizens immunised.

The UK’s vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Israeli process meant that it took just four minutes for each patient to get the jab, which had informed Westminster’s focus on the “high throughput” facilities unveiled this week.

“One of the things we learned is the speed at which they can actually vaccinate people,” Zahawi told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“We want to make sure that we get to similar speeds. They at about four minutes per patient. That’s the sort of target we want to make sure we deliver on. At this stage it’s a race against time.”

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in London confirmed that the two countries were working together on vaccine programmes.

“Israel and the UK are continuing to share best practices on all levels,” she said. “Just last week [Health Secretary] Matt Hancock spoke with [Israeli Health Minister] Yuli Edelstein and discussed best practices and future cooperation in fighting the pandemic and vaccination programmes in both countries.”

In his national TV briefing last week, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens referenced the Israeli programme, saying England’s geography meant that a mixed approach might work better here.

This weekend Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, also urged the government to look at the model championed from Jerusalem, saying Israel’s experience with national emergencies may even have helped.

“People have rightly pointed to the Israelis, who have managed to immunise lots of people,” said Bell. “You have to view it as if it were a war. The Israelis are good at getting on a war footing – everyone is waiting for the 2am call anyway. Here it is not clear whether it’s a national security issue, but it is.”

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