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Israel has vaccinated one fifth of its population in 3 weeks ― Health minister

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel has vaccinated 20 per cent of its population in the three weeks since it started its coronavirus vaccination campaign, the largest in its history, the country’s health minister said.

“We have completed three weeks of campaign `Return to Life ‘with wonderful news,’’ Health Minister Yuli Edelstein tweeted on Sunday, saying that 1.817 million of Israel’s 9.2 million residents had received the first jab of the U.S.-German Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Edelstein were the first to receive the second dose late on Saturday, in the Sheba Hospital near Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu and his health minister received the first injection on Dec. 19, marking the start of the mass campaign that has seen Israel become the country with most inoculations per capita.

The government aims to vaccinate all residents of the country over the age of 16 by the end of March.

With a daily caseload swelling to around 8,000 since a second lockdown was relaxed in October, Israel tightened a third nationwide lockdown on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the first four infections with a new coronavirus variant, that originally appeared in South Africa, have been detected in Israel, according to the Health Ministry.

Israel has seen 3,645 COVID-19-related deaths since the novel virus was first detected in the country nearly a year ago.

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