Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel was hoping to vaccinate a quarter of its population against coronavirus within a month in order to return to post-pandemic normalcy.

“I spoke over the weekend with the heads of the companies that are providing us with the vaccines and I told them that our goal by next weekend is to reach 150,000 vaccines a day,” Netanyahu said in a video.

“This means that within 30 days of reaching this pace we will have administered 4.5 million vaccinations,” he said. “Since everyone needs two injections, after one month we will have vaccinated 2.25 million Israeli citizens.”

Netanyahu was the first Israeli to receive a Covid-19 jab on December 19, ahead of the launch on Monday of a nationwide innoculation programme.

By Friday morning 210,000 people had received a first dose of the vaccine developped by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Netanyahu said he hopes the vaccination drive will help Israel “emerge from the coronavirus” allowing it to re-open its economy “and do things that no country can do”.

His comments came as Israel prepared to start on Sunday a nationwide two-week lockdown — its third since the pandemic started earlier this year — after a sharp rebound in the infection rate.

Israelis will be barred from travelling more than one kilometre (1,000 yards or so) from their homes and businesses will be closed except for deliveries.

Exceptions will be made for those travelling for medical treatment, including vaccinations, and schools will remain partially open for some age groups.

In a population of nine million, Israel has now confirmed 398,015 coronavirus cases, 3,203 of them fatal.