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Israel military minds aid COVID battle and rapid vaccine rollout – Nikkei Asia

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TOKYO — The world is watching Israel and its unmatched coronavirus vaccination drive. Israel, meanwhile, is watching COVID-19 around the world with a “Knowledge Center” spearheaded by military intelligence.

Much has been made of the tiny Middle Eastern state’s rapid vaccine rollout. It has administered nearly 66 shots per 100 residents, according to the latest figures from statistics website Our World in Data. That was far ahead of the best of the West, the U.K.’s nearly 19, let alone Asia, where Singapore was leading at about three.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week reported that confirmed cases in the 60-plus age group had dropped 45% thanks to inoculations. But if the up-for-reelection Netanyahu has made himself a prominent face of the campaign — touting 17 rounds of talks with Pfizer’s CEO and being the first to get jabbed — the military has provided crucial support.

When COVID-19 first reached the country almost exactly a year ago, the government sought to trace and quarantine people who had been in contact with patients. As it quickly became clear that the Ministry of Health lacked the resources to confront the crisis alone, the authorities turned to the Israel Defense Forces.

A military spokesman told Nikkei Asia that IDF contact tracers have conducted roughly 240,000 epidemiological investigations, while Home Front Command facilities have accounted for about 50% of all COVID testing. He said the military also dispatched personnel to reinforce hospitals and laboratories while providing 29 quarantine locations.

Another endeavor was to create a Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, led by the IDF Intelligence Directorate. The basic idea was to soak up all kinds of information on the virus and vaccines — from the ministry itself, from health care providers and from research published across the globe — to help the government make better decisions. Policymakers receive daily reports from the center.

“We brought people from different disciplines — the intelligence people, from the military, many people from academia, to sit together and to try to assess properly all different aspects which are relevant for us,” Dr. Asher Salmon, head of the Health Ministry’s international relations department, told Nikkei.

Asher declined to disclose the scale of the center but explained it “does many things,” from conducting risk analysis to formulating mathematical models. “We need somehow to understand, are we going to have a massive outbreak in the coming weeks? Where is it going? How will it respond to different measures?”

It has not always worked. Initially a success story, Israel later struggled to contain outbreaks and resorted to multiple lockdowns, while the virus surged through some communities that defied social distancing guidelines. The nation of about 9 million has recorded over 700,000 infections and more than 5,000 deaths. It continues to see thousands of daily cases, though the curve is trending downward.

“I have to tell you that after being in this [coronavirus] business for a year, it’s not very easy,” Asher said. “Not every assessment or analysis has proven itself. But [the Knowledge Center] is certainly a tool that helps everybody, from the prime minister and the cabinet down to us, to really try and plan properly.”

The operation extends to monitoring progress on vaccines.

Within Israel, the center tracks the number of people inoculated, how the doses are distributed across demographics, reports of side effects, and where more educational support might be needed to persuade residents to go and get the shots. It also watches how vaccines are working outside the country and how mutations might affect them.

In late January, the Knowledge Center warned of the danger of an Israeli variant emerging. “The mass vaccine campaign taking place parallel to the active outbreak in Israel may lead to ‘evolutionary pressure’ on the virus,” it said in a report quoted by The Times of Israel news site.

The IDF spokesman said the Home Front Command and the military’s Unit 8200 — an intelligence organ known for its cyber capabilities — have “teamed up” on a task force focused on variants. “The contacts of each person confirmed to be infected with one of the variants will be thoroughly investigated using a combination of specially trained investigators and an algorithm to trace contacts two ‘generations’ back,” he said.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 9.

  © Reuters

Asher stressed: “We are doing whatever we can to limit [variants], to contain them. Because there is conflicting data regarding the effectiveness of the current vaccines against these variants.”

The IDF, meanwhile, is offering on-the-ground assistance to get vaccines out as quickly as possible. The government recruited about 700 reserve medics to help with mass inoculations.

“Those reserve medics have been deployed to 104 vaccination centers across Israel,” where they assist with shots and logistics, the spokesman said. He added that the IDF helps arrange vaccinations for people with mobility issues, who cannot reach an inoculation site.

IDF involvement in a time of crisis is nothing unusual in Israel — a country that has fought multiple conflicts dating back to its foundation in 1948. Although Israel is not in a state of war today, it is constantly on guard and faces rising tensions with Iran.

Legally, all citizens are required to serve after turning 18, with exceptions for Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews. This makes the IDF part of the community in a way that, say, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are not. The SDF has dispatched small numbers of nurses to help certain prefectures cope with COVID-19, but even its disaster relief operations are tightly controlled by pacifist laws.


An IDF medic consults with a man getting vaccinated in Tzrifin, in central Israel. (Photo courtesy of IDF)

Although the IDF is aiding the coronavirus fight, Asher emphasized that it is only part of the story.

“It looks very interesting, exciting, sexy, but in the end, it’s just people with proper knowledge assessing [the situation] and really trying to predict what is unpredictable,” he said, pointing to the mathematicians, computer experts and businesses also on the case.

Asher said this cross-sector approach should be remembered for the next pandemic, whenever it strikes.

“What I try to tell my colleagues is, it’s not the business of the Ministry of Health or the health system. It’s a national business,” he said. “The consequences of this crisis are national and are relevant to almost every discipline in the country. So we have to work together and use the strong sides of every organization.”

Another lesson, he said, is the importance of restricting movement of people within and across borders. “It’s the best way to stop it. Certainly China is still successful by massively limiting people. And I do believe if that had been done from the beginning, we may be in a whole different place now.”

With reporting by James Hand-Cukierman.

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Interior Health opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings Monday – Rossland Telegraph

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Interior Health will open up its call centre on Monday for seniors to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

On Monday, seniors aged 90 and over, and Indigenous peoples aged 65 and over, can begin booking appointments by calling 1-877-740-7747. The call centre is open seven days per week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

We remind everyone to be vigilant against fraud. Call centres will never ask for financial information, credit card details, or social insurance numbers. 

The call centre will only ask for:

  • legal name
  • date of birth
  • postal code
  • personal health number (PHN) from the back of B.C. driver’s licences or BC services cards, and
  • current contact information, including an email address you or your family checks regularly or a phone number that can receive text messages.

The public is reminded to follow a staggered approach to prevent long waits and system overload.

  • March 8, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment;
  • March 15, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and
  • March 22, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.

​Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at the time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15, 2021.

To learn about B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan and the Phase 2 rollout, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst

For additional information on the immunization campaignvisit www.gov.bc.ca/covidvaccine

For more information on what to expect when you go to get vaccinated for COVID-19, visit: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/getting-a-vaccine

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COVID-19 vaccination bookings start Monday for some Surrey seniors – Surrey Now-Leader – Surrey Now-Leader

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Starting Monday (March 8), some Surrey seniors and Indigenous seniors and elders can start planning for their COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the next three weeks, seniors aged 80-plus and some of the Indigenous community will be able to book their appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the provincial government, it’s planning to have about 400,000 people immunized from March to mid-April as part of it’s phase two of the vaccination plan.

The age groups are based on the age people are turning in 2021.

First up is seniors aged 90-plus (born in 1931 or earlier) and Indigenous seniors and elders aged 65-plus (born in 1956 or earlier). They can call Fraser Health starting March 8, or any day after.

Then it’s seniors between the ages of 85 and 89 (born in 1936 or earlier). They can call starting March 15, or any day after.

Finally, seniors between the ages of 80 and 84 (born in 1941 or earlier) can call starting March 22, or any day after.

Fraser Health says immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15.

READ ALSO: Four Surrey recreation centres chosen for mass vaccination sites, Feb. 22, 2021

Surrey city council approved Fraser Health to operate mass vaccination sites at the Clayton Recreation Centre, Cloverdale Recreation Centre, Guildford Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre.

Bookings can be done online at fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking or by phone at 1-855-755-2455.

– With files from Tom Zytaruk



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Mar. 6, 2021 – PrinceGeorgeMatters.com

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 85,376 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,253,514 doses given. Nationwide, 561,238 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,946.061 per 100,000.

There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,622,210 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.94 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 19,975 new vaccinations administered for a total of 510,479 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.659 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 35,886 new vaccinations administered for a total of 820,714 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.872 per 1,000. In the province, 1.83 per cent (269,063) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 2,358 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 61.682 per 1,000. In the province, 2.17 per cent (29,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 2,789 new vaccinations administered for a total of 86,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.679 per 1,000. In the province, 2.37 per cent (27,945) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 116.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 9,488 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,719 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 62.634 per 1,000. In the province, 2.06 per cent (90,486) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 12,357 new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,437 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 465.769 per 1,000. In the territory, 17.00 per cent (7,093) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 102.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 58.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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