Israeli health funds at center of world-beating coronavirus vaccination push

As he gingerly lowered himself into a chair after his first coronavirus vaccine jab, Simcha Barlow, a 75-year-old Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jew, said deciding to get inoculated was simple. “If the rabbis approve, I do not ask any questions at all,” the hobbling Torah scholar told AFP at a clinic in the mainly ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, city of Bnei Brak. Israel’s initial vaccination rollout appears to be unfolding successfully, with some two million citizens having received the first of two required injections of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, a pace widely described as the world’s fastest per capita.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who faces yet another reelection contest and a corruption trial over the coming weeks — has sought to highlight his personal role in the inoculation campaign. Netanyahu has in particular emphasized his discussions with executives from Pfizer and Moderna that he says have ensured Israel will have enough supply to vaccinate its entire over-16 population by the end of March.