It is dr ron volisser he’s in a director of innovation at kwali, it’s, israel’s, largest health services organization ron. Thanks so much for for being here, um. Israel is the envy of the world at the moment, with the vaccination campaign, that’s been well underway um. What are the early conclusions from it? Why why have you been so good at inoculating, so many people so quickly? I think that the first uh point that we have to take into account is it’s not really a fair comparison. Israel is a small, condensed country and fairly young, and you know, vaccinating all of the elderly in israel is a very small dent in the international supply chain, and so we have to take that into account when we make comparisons to countries in the size of the Us, germany or the uk uh, but after that point we we do have to acknowledge the fact that it was quite uh uh, an astounding uh um process in which we have been able to vaccinate uh over 40 percent of our population. By now, and and reaching almost 90 percent of our elderly – and this does already show a substantial impact on our morbidity patterns and what we see that, despite the fact that we are in our third and very aggressive wave of covet 19, these very days, we still Uh see a marked decline in the rates of infection and more uh, more importantly, of severe disease among the population that is 60 years and older, which were the first ones to get vaccinated about a a month and a half ago.
And now we see the fruits of that effort when over 75 percent of our population above the age of 60 have now reached the point in which they have more than a week after the second dose, and therefore they are fully protected. Uh it’s an incredible feat: when do you anticipate that that you will reach 75 immunity across the country? Oh, that would take time that would take time so um within, i think about uh three weeks or so it will be about 40. When you talk about all age groups, but we have to take into account that 30 of the population is below the age of 16 and therefore will not be vaccinated anyway, so you know the uh. If we vaccinate every everyone that is eligible, we will reach the mark of 70, but getting to 70 from 40 is going to be exceedingly difficult. Um, you know um, we we need to be a little bit more realistic, i’ll, be very happy if we reach 50 60. You know i i i appreciate you saying that it’s not you know that it’s not apples to apples, comparison between israel and other countries or other states, but i got to tell you i got to push back on that a little bit because if we think about It here in the united states, there are some states that that are the size of of israel that that don’t have results even anywhere close to this.
What are the lessons that we can take away from what you’ve done in israel and how we could be doing this differently in other parts of the world? So some of this is setting specific, really setting specific, because you know in israel there’s universal healthcare. Everybody is insured and everybody’s getting all of their daily healthcare services from four health maintenance organizations, sick funds, as they’re called here, which are really strong, logistically very sound organizations that are used to outreach and to a lot of of professional care within the community. Setting outside of the inpatient setting and with a lot of great relationship between the gps and and the patients on the daily basis, so getting the one step ahead from that stepping stone and getting to a point in which we create quickly vaccination. Clinics um is, is easier. The second point that we have in a setting which is different is that we are fully digitized and we’ve been fully digitized for over 20 years, wow, um and and – and so you know, the patient comes into the vaccination clinic. He either gives his id card or or just his uh member card and immediately uh. All of his data is on the computer. We know what energies he’s he’s, having we know everything about his background morbidity and, within a matter of seconds, he’s already sitting down getting the vaccine and out the door so it’s very different when you have to retake all of the history uh during the visit to The vaccination clinic yeah it’s a lot different than here in the united states.
I mean electronic medical records, universal health care and widespread availability and adoption and accessibility of technology, not things we have at all here in the united states. In many parts um, i i i do wonder about the the variance uh doctor, how you’re thinking about the variants and to what extent they’ve shown up in israel and to what extent they have proven that they are or not. The vaccines are not resilient to them. So the variants are a serious wild card, it’s it’s, a complete game changer. What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is uh how the uk variant the b117 variant has become from a 10 of the new cases to over 70 of the new cases, so it’s taken complete dominance over the infection in the country, and that has caused a Lot of trouble, uh with an increase in infectivity that made us uh, be very hesitant about stopping our recent lockdown, so we’re in pretty dire shape because it is quite ineffective and – and you can see the impact on overall efforts to contain the illness. So, thank god for the vaccination campaign. Had we been going through this surge of morbidity with the uk variant without the vaccines already in place for a month and a half, it would have been pretty ugly, as our hospitals are already. Uh has almost reached their maximal capacity and only now are are beginning to see the decline. So this is about the uk variant for everything that we know and for everything we’ve seen in the literature.
Until now, in our uh practical uh insights from the practice, the uh pfizer vaccine is seems to be effective against the uk variant. So these are great news. What will happen with the other variants is a question mark yeah. It remains to be seen. Um israel. Last week, doctors sent 5000 vaccine doses to palestinians in the west bank, along with 10 000 doses of the sputnik 5 vaccine, donated by russia. When are you and israel going to shift more focus to to help those surrounding areas so uh? You know it all is also uh dependent on their willingness to receive again i’m, not involved in all of these efforts, so i know very little about them, but from what i hear there were offers before to to provide vaccines to the population, there was some reluctance On the other side to receive what seems to be like aid from from israel and i’m glad that they’ve been willing to receive uh this current uh vaccine shipment and i hope more, will follow. Uh. We i’m, the chairman of the israeli national experts, advisory team on covet 19 response, and we have, you know, provided the very clear recommendation that we should focus efforts on vaccinating uh, the palestinian population to the best extent possible. You know these are epidemiologically single uh uh. The the movement of viruses do not know the borders and, and we should be uh, doing our best efforts on that domain as well.
I’M sure this is part of the government’s process, dr rand balaser, chief innovation officer of quality. Thank you so much for your time.