Netanyahu announces that Israel is expecting to begin vaccinations against the coronavirus in January, following approval.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that Israel will receive eight million doses of the new coronavirus vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
“Today is a big day for Israel and a big day on the path to our victory over the coronavirus,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.
“At this moment we are signing an agreement with Pfizer to receive eight million vaccinations for four million Israelis. The Pfizer vaccine requires two vaccine doses per person,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said the vaccinations would begin in January and continue over the following months, subject to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Israel’s Health Ministry.
After months of delays by Health Ministry officials, Netanyahu was forced to talk to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla to make sure the company set aside doses of the vaccine for Israel, as the competition by countries to obtain the limited number of vaccines produced is intense. Pfizer said earlier this week it should have around 50 million doses ready by December as it ramps up production of about a billion doses for 2021.
With a population of 9.2 million, Israel will need at least 18.4 million doses.
Netanyahu said that Israel is working to bring vaccines from other sources as well, including the new vaccine produced by the American company Moderna as well as Russian, Chinese and a homegrown Israeli vaccine that is currently in third-phase clinical trials that started last week.
“However, it must be understood that this will take time throughout the world; we need to follow the rules. I insist that the exit from the restrictions be done gradually and responsibly. I want to open up the economy, commerce and everything else no less than others, but we must do so responsibly because otherwise we will simply go back to where we were,” Netanyahu said.
Edelstein said health officials were being careful not to put “all of our eggs in one basket.”
The minister said the vaccine is not the only solution. The government is on the verge of obtaining faster coronavirus testing and medicines to treat those who are already infected, he added.
Although the government has set a target of an average of 500 new infections daily, Health Ministry statistics released Friday morning showed 815 Israelis tested positive for the virus in the past day, up from 735 Thurday and 734 on Wednesday.
There are 8,059 Israelis currently sick with coronavirus. Of the 551 people hospitalized, 148 are listed in critical condition with 133 of them connected to ventilators.
Israel’s death toll from the coronavirus stands at 2,707 since the beginning of the pandemic.