Polish Lawmakers Eager to Learn From Israel’s Vaccine Campaign Success

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On January 19, 2021, ELNET-Poland together with the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary Group and the Polish Senate hosted an event in the Polish Senate on the success of the Israeli vaccination campaign against COVID-19. ELNET brought via ZOOM Prof. Ran Balicer, Chief Innovation Officer at Clalit and chairman of the Israeli national advisory experts’ team on COVID-19, who presented the strategy of the vaccination program in Israel.

The event was attended by more than 50 MPs and Senators (both in-person and online) and was hosted by the Speaker of the Senate prof. Tomasz Grodzki, Deputy Speaker of the Senate Michał Kamiński (a member of the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary Group) and MP Michał Szczerba, Chairman of the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary Group. Among other participants were Prof. Zbigniew Horban, Chief Adviser on Covid-19 to the Polish Prime Minister, and the Israeli Charge d’Affairs, Mrs. Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon.

Read more in the Jerusalem Post article: “Poland seeks to mirror Israel’s vaccination efforts.”

Speaker of the Polish Senate prof. Tomasz Grodzki emphasized, that the meeting is not political, but focused on health issues, which are of utmost importance at the moment. “We are very impressed by the effects and efficiency of the vaccination campaign in the friendly nation of Israel – said the Speaker. As a physician, who runs the contagious diseases hospital for years, I’m happy to attend this meeting.”

MP Michał Szczerba mentioned that the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary Group is the largest friendship group in Polish Parliament (134 members), emphasized the importance of Polish-Israeli cooperation on Parliamentary level, and acknowledged many years of close cooperation with ELNET as an important partner bringing Israel and Europe together.

Marta Kubica, Executive Director of ELNET-Poland, introduced Prof. Balicer to Members of Parliament.

Prof. Ran Balicer outlined the basics of the Israeli healthcare system. Then he described the actions taken when the number of people infected started to rise rapidly – as soon as the first deliveries of vaccine were confirmed, Israel started to plan the vaccination campaign. The campaign started at the peak of infections which contributed to the neutralization of the rising number. It was also the reason for the acceleration of the vaccination program. As of January 19, 2021, 25% of the population received the first dose, the vaccinations are run 12h/day, 7 days a week in 300 vaccination stations. They are also prepared to work round the clock, but there is no need for it yet. The population is divided into groups – the first to be vaccinated was medical personnel, the next – people over 60. In order not to waste any vaccines, the system is flexible, so if there are spare doses left at the end of the day, anybody who will come to the vaccination station may receive a vaccine. As for now, less than 0,1% have gone to waste.

Prof. Ran Balicer also emphasized the importance of data collection and analysis. The information is sent to the central database, which allows for the quick assessment of the program and evaluation of its effectiveness, prediction, and prevention of possible threats and better hospital care.

Speaker of the Senate noticed, that 25% of the population which will soon receive the second dose is an impressive number, even more so if we add the people who recovered from COVID-19. Answering his question regarding the lifting of some of the restrictions, Prof. Balicer said, that it will only be possible after a significant drop in new infections and new severe cases. We should also keep in mind the new strain of the virus from the UK.

Senator Prof. Alicja Chybicka asked about vaccinations for patients who underwent organ transplants, Prof. Balicer said they will be vaccinated and are treated as high-risk patients.

„Israel inspires us on many levels. But there is nothing more important right now than the pandemic. There is no matter more urgent than the vaccinations and providing protection for our societies” said MP Michał Szczerba, Chairman of the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary Group. He closed the session saying “We are impressed by how promptly Israel responds to the pandemic and by the pace of the vaccination campaign. 25% of the population vaccinated within the first four weeks of the campaign indicates, that the plan to vaccinate all persons above 16 till the end of March may well be fulfilled.”

Recording of the event in the Polish senate (English translation)

The event received broad coverage in the leading Polish press outlets, including in Wp.pl: “Co-author of the success of the vaccination campaign in Israel will meet with Polish politicians”, Onet.pl: “Senate on vaccination success in Israel. Prof. Balicer: teachers are one of our priorities”, Gazeta Wyborcza: “In the Senate on the success of vaccination in Israel”, News Gazeta.pl: “In Israel, 25 percent were vaccinated. population. The preparation is already taken by people over 45 years of age”, Do Rzeczy “A professor from Israel appeared in the Senate. Grodzki’s reaction”, Dziennik.pl: “Israel vaccinates flexibly. Anyone who is willing”, WNP.pl.: “Advisor to the Israeli government: vaccinate flexibly”.

Read here the official report on the website of the Polish senate.