More than 2 million Israelis have now received at least their first vaccination shot against Covid-19 and this week Israel will begin vaccinating prisoners, including Palestinian security prisoners.
The Finance Ministry announced today that the economy is forecast to grow by 4.6% this year following a 3.3% contraction in 2020.
A controversial, but peer-reviewed, study has cast doubt on the efficacy of lockdowns and business closures as means of preventing the spread of coronavirus beyond the benefits of voluntary measures such as social distancing.
Meanwhile, a potential game-changer in Covid-19 testing could be the development by Israel's Scentech Medical, which claims to have created a breath test which gives within seconds results comparable in accuracy to the existing swab test.
A game-changer in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 could be the development of SaNOtize nasal spray which claims to kill 99.9% of the responsible coronavirus. Dr Gilly Regev, co-founder of the company, believes that it can be made available over-the-counter once it passes clinical trials such as those currently being undertaken in the UK. #
Another technological advance is the air purification system developed by Aura Air which eliminates the threat of coronavirus. It has already been installed in 400 coaches in the UK and Ireland and it is hoped that it will be invaluable to the recovery of the tourism industry in 2021. With Covid-19 remaining a major problem, but the world-leading vaccination programme well under way, Israel remains 14th on the list of tests per million people (1,031,838), compared with the UK in 17th place (927,419) with the disputed territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza remaining in 92nd place (185,775).
Israel has risen again, to 15th, in the list of cases of coronavirus per million people (59,373) compared to the UK in 25th place (49,882) and the disputed territories in 56th place (29,433).
Israel remains in 60th place in the list of deaths per million people (433 per million), still well below the UK in 7th place with 1,311 deaths per million: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system. Also impressive is the statistic for the disputed territories, with only 333 deaths per million people and 66th place in the list. Both Israelis and Palestinians are therefore much less likely to die of Covid-19 than the frequency of confirmed cases would suggest, whereas people in the UK are much more likely to die.
Meanwhile, Natan Sharansky, winner of the 2020 Genesis Prize, nicknamed the Jewish Nobel, donated his $1 million prize money to be shared between Israeli companies which have shown innovation in tackling Covid-19. The ten winners have received their awards from President Reuven at a special, socially distanced ceremony.
One bonus for those getting vaccinated is that they are entitled to a green passport, which exempts the holder from the need to quarantine on their return from a high-risk country. It has also been suggested that the green passport may be necessary for entry to public spaces such as shopping malls.
The principle of pikuach nefesh (no greater mitzvah than saving a human life) has led to the question of whether vaccinations can be permitted on Shabbat. Rabbi David Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, has ruled that it can be permitted as long as vaccinations are also taking place 24/6: while there is still unused capacity on the other six days of the week, vaccination on Shabbat is not permitted.
The impressive recovery rate of Palestinians (1.1 % death rate among reported cases, compared with 0.73 % in Israel and 2.6 % in the UK) is doubtless linked to the willingness of Israel to extend health care to even confirmed enemies of the nation such as Saeb Erekat, whose daughter pointedly thanked the "Arab doctors" treating him in hospital in Jerusalem, but not the Jewish medical staff or the country that tried to save his life.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians usually work in Israel, but many have lost jobs due to the economic downturn while others fear transmitting coronavirus to their families and neighbours when they return to the West Bank.