Why Ireland is trying to learn Israel’s COVID vaccine playbook

Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination figures at the time of writing, numbering a little over half a million. Source: Cork Independent via Twitter.
  • Ireland and Israel both have relatively small populations. Ireland’s population is a tiny bit shy of 5 million. Israel has roughly 9 million citizens. In other words, Israel has roughly double Ireland’s population.
  • Ireland and Israel, geographically, are both relatively small countries

Israeli Healthcare Is Both Centralized And Electronic

An online menu from the Macabbi HMO for booking vaccine appointments (in Hebrew). Screenshot: author.
  • Almost every citizen already had access to an online medical system. Each HMO only needed to develop a bolt-on to its platform for booking appointments.
  • Information was centralized in four bodies rather than hundreds — more likely thousands — of GP surgeries. Each HMO rolled out its vaccination program triage slightly differently. But it wasn’t hard to follow updates on when [your HMO] was beginning to offer vaccines. Information — and IT — was already centralized.

Other Factors That May Have Influenced Israel’s Success

  • Logistical excellence: As a country that has had to develop extensive know-how in the fields of logistics and home front operations, Israel was primed to be able to roll out a vaccine effort as expeditiously as possible mobilizing whatever resources were necessary to make things work. The country has done everything in its power to roll out vaccines to its citizens including using its foreign intelligence agency to procure PPE and other supplies when needed. Israel is used to having to fight its own corner.
  • Geopolitics: Unlike Ireland, Israel isn’t a European Union (EU) member state. It has been unencumbered by cross-jurisdictional politics when planning its rollout, although there has been plenty of dissent internally.
  • Tech prowess: Israel is a smartphone-addicted nation and the tech hub of the Middle East. It has been willing to use whatever technical systems it had at its disposal to better its management of the pandemic. This has included — controversially — using its internal intelligence agency to track citizens’ smartphones and, more recently, quickly developing a smartphone application to support its green passport scheme.

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