Infrastructural capital in the Israeli vaccination campaign against COVID-19

Omri Tubi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the Israeli vaccination campaign against COVID-19, focusing on the state's acquisition of the vaccines from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. In December 2020, Israel signed an agreement with Pfizer to purchase enough doses to vaccinate its entire population. In the months that followed, the country became a world leader in vaccination rates. But how was Israel able to purchase large quantities of then-scarce vaccines in the first place? To answer this question, I examine reports and publications by government and civil society bodies as well as news coverage about the campaign. Drawing on insights from the sociology of the state and from science and technology studies, I argue that Israel was able to secure vaccines by using its state-power as a form of currency. Theoretically, I suggest the term “infrastructural capital” – which I define as the resources a state can provide to an external capitalist actor by virtue of its power – to explain how Israel traded with Pfizer. In the conclusion, I discuss the potential implications of this case for other cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115022
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume303
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Biocapitalism
  • COVID
  • Infrastructural capital
  • Israel
  • Medical records
  • Pharma
  • State-power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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