Open letter to the University of Oxford: 'Our World in Data' misrepresents Israel’s vaccination rates

(22 April 2021) Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has joined a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli and international health and human rights organisations to issue the following statement calling for accurate reporting of COVID-19 vaccination figures for all people under Israel's control.

With the ongoing devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the impending hope for a better future in sight, it is more crucial than ever for scientists and policy makers to accurately track and follow vaccination coverage. Our World in Data, a website associated with the University of Oxford and scientifically edited by researchers of the Oxford Martin Programme on Global Development at the university, has emerged as a leading tool for tracking vaccination delivery and to understand the protective effects of vaccination, its side effects, and people’s attitudes towards vaccination. In its mission, the website commits to focusing on “poverty, disease, hunger, climate change, war, existential risks, and inequality”, in order to contribute to solving the world’s largest problems by using existing data and making it widely available. 

Yet, one of its charts uses politicized and misleading figures, celebrating one of the oldest regimes of military occupation and perpetuating its impunity before international law.

The COVID-19 vaccinations chart shows Israel’s remarkable achievement in vaccinating many of its citizens. However, it omits the fact that, as an occupying power, Israel has failed to fulfill its obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention to provide vaccines to all 4.5 million Palestinians living under its military occupation, as affirmed by leading Palestinian, Israeli and international health and human rights organizations.  

Condemning this Israeli policy, United Nations experts emphasized, “International human rights law, which applies in full to the occupied Palestinian territory, stipulates that everyone enjoys the right to ‘the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’. The denial of an equal access to health care, such as on the basis of ethnicity or race, is discriminatory and unlawful.” 

Adding these millions of vaccine-deprived Palestinians to Israel’s figures would change the picture entirely.

We urge the “Our World in Data” site to accurately include all Israelis and Palestinians living under Israeli control as a denominator when calculating Israel’s percentage of vaccination coverage. 


Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC):
Al Haq Organization - Law in the Service of Mankind

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

DCI - Defense for Children International - Palestine

Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center 

Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies

Hurryyat - Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (Ombudsman Office) - Observer Member

Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights - Observer Member

Palestine Doctors’ Association

Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University

The Galilee Society - the Arab National Society for Health Research and Services

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP-UK)

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP-US) – Health Advisory Council

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Amnesty International

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