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Israel media review

Hit me with your best shots: What the press is saying on December 29

Israel is going gangbusters for the COVID-19-busting vaccine and there’s enough for everyone, assuming the doses keep coming. Until then, the fake lockdowns should keep us safe

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem on December 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem on December 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

1. Going like shotcakes: Israel recorded the highest number of new daily COVID cases since the heights of the second wave of the virus, but the media is more focused on vaccine successes.

  • According to Health Ministry numbers, the country has vaccinated more people than have gotten the disease since the start of the outbreak nearly a year ago, and is closing in on 500,000 total.
  • Walla reports on “giant” new vaccine centers being opened up, meant to begin to reach the general population, with the goal of inoculating 2,500 people a day at each one using a method the news site calls an assembly line.
  • “The State of Israel is making a tremendous effort to escape this nightmare we are in for almost a year, and I think we are very much on the right track,” the head of the Clalit health provider organization tells the outlet.
  • Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes that the vaccine drive is going swimmingly toward the goal of most of the population getting vaccinated by March. He also papers over what seems like it could be an important issue: The fact that the doses aren’t here yet and all estimations are only that 10 million shots will arrive by March (if other media reports are correct), enough for 5 million patients. That’s 2 million doses shy of what is needed to get to everyone over 16.
  • “At the moment this goal seems achievable by March, providing that more vaccines can be imported and most people agree to take the vaccine,” he surmises.
  • “The vaccine’s manufacturers may have an interest in speeding up the supply because they may see Israel as a test case. A show of the efficacy of the vaccine in a small country prepared to inoculate most of its population may encourage more countries to sign contracts with it. The manufacturers will ask Israel for as much medical information as possible on the population’s response to the immunization,” he adds.
  • Israel Hayom reports that even ultra-Orthodox are getting vaccinated, quoting a source saying that the response in the community has been “crazy.”
  • “We have appointments in Haredi areas until late at night,” the source says.
  • Channel 13 advises news consumers not to get worked up after a man who took the vaccine went into anaphylactic shock. The man, the channel notes, had a recorded penicillin allergy and a history of going into anaphylactic shock (though Israel says those with such allergies can get the vaccine).
  • “The Health Ministry is warning against fake news about the vaccine. As is known, the ones getting vaccinated now are for the most part at-risk, and so any medical incident among this group — which is more likely to send them to the hospital — will be linked to the vaccine.”

2. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take: Channel 12 reports, with no source, that 2.4 million more doses from Pfizer will get here by the end of the month, giving Israel enough to inoculate the whole at-risk population. After that, though, it seems it will be February before the next shipment comes in.

  • “If efforts to advance the shipment are not successful, there will be a slowdown in the pace of inoculations,” it reports. “If they do come, Israel can start vaccinating the general population.”
  • (It also says doses are being set aside so that in three weeks the supply of boosters doesn’t run dry.)
  • Somehow forgotten is the fact that the general population is already getting vaccinated, with line-jumping not only common but often encouraged by the health providers themselves who just want to get this over with.
  • “We have enough to inoculate the high-risk population, but only if we make sure they are vaccinated first,” Health Ministry deputy head Itamar Grotto tells Army Radio. “We’ll instructed hospitals and HMOs to enforce this.”
  • Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash tells Kan says nobody should be worried about Israel running low, but also appears to confirm fears that the pace may slow: “There will be enough for everyone. We have to work at the pace the vaccines come and we’re working to advance their arrival.”
  • That’s not true in at least one place. Walla reports that in Arad, city hall called on all residents to go get vaccinated, regardless of age or health, because it had 1,000 doses that were about to expire. Within five hours, they had been used up.

3. Needle in a crisis-stack: In Yedioth Ahronoth, presidential candidate Miriam Peretz writes of getting the vaccine and now urges the development of a treatment to heal societal rifts.

  • “We need to take this moment of hope and double it and bolster it,” she writes. “We need a social vaccine. A vaccine like this won’t come from the Moderna or Pfizer labs. Nobody will make it for us.”
  • The same sort of call is issued by Prof. Nadav Davidovitch in Israel Hayom. “The vaccines won’t heal societal gaps that have come about during the pandemic, including the higher morbidity and death among those who are poorer, and damage caused by the lockdowns, which badly hurt the economy, culture, mental health and more,” he writes.
  • Writing for Channel 12’s news website, Amos Yadlin echoes the call to not think the vaccine will solve all of Israel’s ills: “Even if we get to spring 2021 with a dramatic drop in morbidity, Israel will still be in a deep economic, social and political crisis.”

4. Flout, flout, let it all out: Rather than focus on the vaccine, which might make the government look good, Yedioth discusses the lockdown — which is neither locked, nor down.

  • “No trust,” reads the paper’s front-page headline, setting the tone for its coverage, in which the lack of people adhering to health guidelines, and the lack of enforcement from local city inspectors, is seen as a symptom of the people feeling abandoned by the government.
  • “Even if it wasn’t said it out loud, it’s clear: Many mayors took matters into their own hands and decided to ignore at least some of the government restrictions due to a lack of faith.”
  • Israel Hayom also focuses on the very open shutdown, calling it a “half-closure.”
  • “On Day 1 of the country’s third lockdown, fast food vendors, who are only allowed to offer delivery services, in Tel Aviv continued their practice adopted during the second lockdown of ‘delivering’ orders to customers waiting for their food just a few yards outside of their store,” it reports. “There was heavy traffic on the city’s streets and countless people took advantage of the sunny weather to exercise outside. The city’s seaside promenade was also full of people exercising, and there wasn’t much enforcement of the rules during daytime hours.”
  • “This is not a lockdown,” expert Ron Balicer tells Kan. “We are using the wrong word and causing a disproportionate reaction from the public. … the coronavirus cabinet advisory panel says that we don’t need a lockdown but for street stores to only allow takeout service and to enforce no gatherings above five people.”
  • He adds that the fact that the Knesset allowed schools to remain open, answering a populist call, is paradoxically feeding public disengagement with the rules.
  • Just about the only people staying in are those confined to coronavirus hotels, but they are pushing to get out too, with what many in the media call the “hotel stayers’ rebellion.”
  • According to Channel 13, some have gone as far as threatening a hunger strike. Their rallying cry: “We won’t eat a thing — we want to go home.”
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