JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that Israel has signed a deal with Pfizer that could see the American vaccine candidate delivered to the Jewish State as early as January.
“This is a great day for Israel and a great day for our victory over the coronavirus,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.
The deal would see Israel purchase 8 million doses of the vaccine. Two doses are needed to immunize each person, so 8 million doses would be enough to vaccinate 4 million people out of Israel’s population of 9 million.
The vaccine will only be administered after it is approved by the FDA and Israel's health ministry.
“We are very proud to work with the Israeli government and supply it with our scientific resources and means of production,” said Dr. Miron Livneh, manager of Pfizer in Israel, according to The Times of Israel. “Our common goal is to bring a potential COVID-19 vaccine to the Israeli people as soon as possible.”
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE are the first to develop a vaccine candidate capable of preventing COVID-19 in widespread trials. They announced on Monday that their vaccine candidate is 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. The firms reported no serious safety concerns and are seeking emergency approval in the United States later this month.
Israel’s Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem is also working to acquire Russia’s vaccine, Sputnik V, which reports to be 92% effective in protecting against the coronavirus.
The hospital has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia and the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology, who are collaborating on the vaccine, for 1.5 million doses of the vaccine candidate, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Hadassah head Prof. Zeev Rotstein told The Post he has submitted paperwork with Israel’s Health Ministry to register the Russian vaccine.
“We know that the chances of Israel enjoying vaccines from different countries are unclear,” Rotstein said. “Different governments could decide to vaccinate their people first and only then send vaccines to other countries. We came to the agency early so we could get on the list.”
Rotstein said Israel’s government has not taken formal steps towards purchasing Sputnik V, but “as usual, we are serving as a pilot to show the Health Ministry the right way and we are hoping that, over time, the government of Israel will realize that this vaccine is safe and efficient.
Then, we will be ready to pass everything necessary over to the government so that people can get vaccinated through the health funds and not Hadassah.”
Israel is also developing its own vaccine and has just begun human trials.
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