Albert Bourla said winning Israel’s fourth election in a two-year span was a factor in Netanyahu’s notoriously “obsessive” efforts to bring the vaccines to the Jewish State.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the Financial Times on Friday that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard lobbying to obtain coronavirus vaccines for Israel wasn’t purely motivated by his concern for the health of the Israeli public.
Rather, Bourla suggested, winning Israel’s unprecedented fourth election in a two-year span was also a factor in Netanyahu’s notoriously “obsessive” efforts to bring the vaccines to the Jewish State.
Bourla said that Netanyahu, who he referred to by the nickname “Bibi,” was highly engaged throughout the ordering process, phoning the pharmaceutical titan “obsessively” to confirm that the deal would be sealed.
During the process to finalize the contract between Israel and Pfizer, “the biggest thing that became clear was Netanyahu was on top of everything, he knew everything.”
According to Bourla, Netanyahu appeared to be trying to cover all his bases, wanting to know if the vaccines protected recipients against the then-rapidly spreading South African mutation.
“He called me 30 times, asking: ‘What about young people . . . what are you doing about the South African variant?’ I’m sure he was doing it for his people, but I’m also sure he was thinking: ‘It could help me politically,” Bourla said.
Israel was chosen to serve as Pfizer’s real-time vaccine laboratory because of its small population and strong electronic health data collection system, he said.
Sweden was also considered an option, but Bourla said Pfizer was concerned about “upsetting” other European countries.
It’s unclear if European health data privacy laws would have permitted a deal that allowed Pfizer to collect massive amounts of data, as is the case in Israel.
Bourla was slated to visit Israel in March 2021 just before the election, but was unable to enter the country because he was not vaccinated.
Because Bourla was under 60 years old and many countries were still conducting their vaccination campaigns based on age-based tiers, Bourla said he did not want to get jabbed in order to avoid “cutting in line.”
The child of two Greek Jews, Bourla recently began speaking out to the media about his parents, who survived the Holocaust.
His mother was nearly killed by a firing squad, Bourla said, but was saved at the last minute because her Christian brother-in-law paid bribes to local decision makers.
He explained that he isn’t comfortable discussing his mother’s experience publicly, as he’s wary of it “becoming folklore,” adding that it’s her story to tell.
“She was the one who was arrested, she was sexually abused, and physically abused at 17, 18 years old,” he said.