Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the prediction that the country would be the first in the world to successfully overcome the pandemic in a few weeks, as the country started its mass vaccination campaign, he wrote on Twitter Thursday.
Medical experts, however, say that the coronavirus pandemic will likely take at least several months to be defeated in the country.
"I want to tell you that the combination of the marvelous vaccine campaign on the one hand, and a short and quick lockdown on the other, is allowing us to get out of the coronavirus [pandemic]," Netanyahu said in a statement. "And we’ll likely be the first country to get out of [it], within a few weeks".
אני רוצה להגיד לכם שהשילוב של מבצע החיסונים האדיר מצד אחד, וסגר קצר ומהיר מצד שני, מאפשר לנו לצאת מהקורונה וכנראה שאנחנו נהיה המדינה הראשונה שתצא תוך כמה שבועות מהקורונה. ברכה גדולה— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 24, 2020
The Israeli PM also praised the government's actions in conducting the vaccine rollout, claiming Israel was emerging as the world leader in mass vaccination.
"At this time we are making Israel the world champion in vaccines. Yesterday we vaccinated 65,000 citizens, and by the end of next week I hope to reach 100,000 vaccines a day", he posted.
בזמן הזה אנחנו הופכים את ישראל לאלופת העולם בחיסונים. אתמול חיסנו 65 אלף אזרחים, ועד סוף השבוע הבא אני מקווה שנגיע ל-100 אלף חיסונים ביום.— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 24, 2020
According to the Our World in Data statistics, Israel is currently second in the world in terms of vaccinations per capita, trailing only Bahrain.
The Jewish state is preparing to enforce a highly unpopular third national lockdown since the start of the pandemic on Sunday in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, while the number of new infections has surged to over 3,000 per day. The new lockdown will last for a term of at least two weeks. The restrictions could be extended for an additional two weeks if the number of new daily cases does not decrease significantly.
The country's leading specialist in the fight against the pandemic, Nachman Ash, said that Israel’s third nationwide lockdown would likely be extended beyond two weeks to curb COVID-19 infection spreading, also predicting the closure would be the last before the pandemic is successfully overcome due to the vaccination efforts.
"Two weeks is too short. I estimate we will need to extend the lockdown," the outlet quotes Ash as saying. "I truly believe this will be our last lockdown."
Last Sunday, Israel began inoculating medical staff, which was followed the next day by Israelis over 60 years old. As of today, at least 180,000 Israelis have already received the first shot of the vaccine against COVID-19. Hospitals are expected to join the effort next week, so the number of people vaccinated daily should increase, which will supposedly help Israel become the first country in the world to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Israel has registered a total of 389,678 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. The death toll stands at 3,171.