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The first week of vaccination: why Israel did it, but Ukraine did not


Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

On February 25, vaccination against coronavirus started in Ukraine. Half a million doses of Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford, and manufactured by the Blood Serum Institute of India, were delivered to the country. According to the plan approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, the doctors of specialized hospitals "covidariums" and soldiers of the JFO will be the first to get vaccination.


To reach 360,000 people by May 2021, according to the plan, it is necessary to do about 7,000 injections per day.

But, if remembering about the second component and the fact that further in the line there is primary medicine with risk groups, and then millions of Ukrainians, then this figure should reach 45,000 and more.

And the average number of those who got the first injection as of today is depressing.

Because on Saturday, for example, 90 vaccinations were given.

On the whole, there has not been a single day in the 8 days of the campaign when the number of the introduced first component exceeded 2,000 people.

To meet the deadline, around 60,000 people had to be vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health reports about 6,888 people who were vaccinated with the first component. Ten times less than the Ministry’s own plan.

Long second wave

All this came up with a beautiful name "cascade vaccination", they say, everything is planned, it should unfold gradually. But there is definitely a need to hurry. The number of identified patients is growing again—it is storming the ceiling of 8,000-10,000.

We have 185 deaths from the impact of the epidemic in 24 hours. This is a serious figure—for example, 9-11 Ukrainians die on the roads per day.

At the same time, the "British strain" of Covid-19, according to Tsahal reports, has a 60% higher threat of serious complications and hospitalization than the "classic" one. That is, there is no seasonal recession, and an aggravation of the situation is possible ahead.

The "red zone" of quarantine has already been introduced in Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi regions, and this morning Zhytomyr was subject to restrictions. We received both a blow to the economy and an ongoing second wave—the same Iranian version, when the epidemic continues for months.

Mistakes of the others

Many countries have problems. It's true.

Spain has shifted the vaccination schedule due to the modernization of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine plant in Belgium. And the Chief of the General Staff resigned because he had received an injection outside the vaccination schedule. For he is not a military medic and not a soldier of the Spanish contingent abroad.

Canada is losing control over supplies of purchased vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca factories in Britain: they had to buy drugs from Indian suppliers. Less than 5% of all ordered manufacturers—as a reserve batch. And they also have a country with an area larger than the United States, with a population smaller than Ukraine—it is difficult to provide logistics, refrigerators and temperature conditions on the periphery.

This is all true.

But vaccination is not testing, when it is necessary to ensure the capacity of laboratories and the delivery of biomaterial in two directions. There, as expected, there were problems in Ukraine, and it was rarely possible to overcome the ceiling of 15,000 tests. The situation is easier now. We need a health worker, a vaccine and a premise. It's up to the organization.

For example, in the first 5 days in Britain, almost 130,000 people were vaccinated. Because there were early purchases, the organization of vaccination centers, plus a wide information campaign.

Israelis vaccinate 150,000 people a day.

They called in more than 3,000 people from the Logistics Service who are dealing with organizational issues, replenished the established operational center to combat Covid-19 and strengthened military units that were sent to help the Ministry of Health.

Army to help the rear

According to the plan of Professor Roni Gamzo, Israel's coordinator for the fight against the epidemic, the security forces are widely used at the epicenters of infection to keep quarantine and are actively supporting the Ministry of Health in vaccination centers. More than 700 paramedics were recruited from the reserve directly for the vaccination campaign. Doctors work in two or sometimes three shifts, administering injections around the clock.

The army is widely used in the fight against Covid-19 in Taiwan, South Korea, China, Spain. Not only as a "labor" resource for vaccination, but also in keeping the quarantine perimeter, investigating the chain of infection, producing consumables. Even in the first wave, a video flashed of how soldiers of the Spanish army sew masks on sewing machines.

What was needed in order to call in several hundred medical instructors of the company or people who finished the TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care—ed. note) courses back then in winter in Ukraine? Who were taught not just to make injections, but even how to insert a thoracic needle for pneumothorax? There are many of them in any department, there are many in reserve—over the 8 years of the conflict, our tactical medicine has grown tremendously. What prevented to organize not just mobile brigades, but vaccination centers—either in the Officers' House, or at civilian facilities? Nothing.

The work makes the master

The same Israelis use sports complexes, cultural centers, mother and child centers. They are deployed jointly by the army, private health insurance companies, the Ministry of Health, and volunteers.

In Germany, at the ice stadium in the press center, "offices" were made from plywood boards, chairs were set up with a meter distance, and they are in the lead in vaccination on the continent, second only to Britain.

For a successful start, huge funds are not critical, but coordination between local authorities, the Cabinet of Ministers, security forces, and healthcare is needed more.

For example, Israel signed a decree on the call of reservists in early August 2020, a network of 130 vaccination centers began to be deployed a month before the physical arrival of vaccines in the country. And an additional 2,000 rates for doctors and nurses, refrigerators and logistics were raised already during the process.

Why was the start of the campaign in Ukraine blurred? What is this—lack of coordination between departments? Or unfitness, when Minister of Defence Taran confuses the IMF and the Ministry of Finance at a briefing while Minister of Health Stepanov teaches Ukrainians to plan purchases of socks and light bulbs during quarantine?

Be that as it may, today Ukraine is in the midst of a crisis. And during this crises at least 27,000 of our citizens died. This is more than in the bloody conflict in the east of the country, and the situation has not yet been brought under control. The cost of delay is too high, and the eyes of the whole country are on the vaccination campaign. Therefore, any hitch and mistake will cause a flurry of expected criticism. And the first week is still difficult to call even the most notorious optimists in any way successful.


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