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Forget about weapons and gasoline. In the Middle East, coronavirus vaccines are emerging as the newest currency of choice.

Combined with the murky prisoner exchange with Syria and the introduction of a batch of vaccines in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s reopening of its economy has all underscored how those with access to the vaccines have political influence in the tumultuous region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at the forefront of this movement, pinning his hopes of re-election on the popularity of his drive to vaccinate the adult population of Israel. Around the same time, for those who vaccinate, he has given incentives and penalties to those who do not.

The world’s fastest vaccination program was initiated by Israel, which administered at least one dose to more than half of its 9.3 million population and the two doses needed in less than two months to about one-third.

Unlike the long queues seen in Europe and the US, vaccines are abundant and available to anyone who wants one, almost on demand. To help lure hesitant holdouts to come in and get the jab, clinics have also provided free food and cappuccinos.

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