Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Collecting blood samples from COVID-19 survivors, at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. October 27, 2020

Israel’s Health Ministry has reached understandings with AstraZeneca under orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.

Final details were being wrapped up on Friday afternoon ahead of signing a deal for the acquisition of millions of vaccines against the coronavirus from AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

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According to the agreement, AstraZeneca will provide Israel with approximately ten million doses of its coronavirus vaccine (AZD1222) for five million people.

The vaccine will be sold to Israel according to a non-profit model during the pandemic period. The agreement includes the supply of the largest quantity of vaccines that will come to Israel.

The first supply is expected to reach Israel in the first half of 2021 subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities in Europe, the US and Israel.

AstraZeneca, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, recently published encouraging results regarding the efficacy of the vaccine among the older population.

The prime minister and health minister have recently closed agreements with several companies which are developing coronavirus vaccines with various technologies deemed effective against the pandemic.

“The State of Israel is in advanced contacts with additional companies in the intention that every citizen who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so with vaccines from the leading companies in the world,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“It should be pointed out that contrary to erroneous publications in the media, the citizens of Israel will not be required to be vaccinated; rather, the state will see to it that they have the possibility of being vaccinated should they so desire,” Netanyahu’s office added.

“My policy is that whoever wants to be vaccinated will have the possibility of being vaccinated, Over-preparation is better than under-preparation,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to act in order to ensure that we will have as many vaccines as possible for as many citizens as possible, from as many sources as possible as quickly as possible.”

Edelstein added his relief that “a strategic effort of many long months has paid off. Today, the State of Israel has agreements with the leading global companies. We set for ourselves the goal that every citizen who so desires will be able to be vaccinated. Thus I hope that we will defeat the virus as quickly as possible. Until then we cannot become complacent. We must strictly adhere to the directives – masks, distancing and hygiene.”

AstraZeneca Israel CEO Ohad Goldberg called the agreement with Israel “historic” and said the accessibility of the vaccine for millions of Israelis came “as part of an international policy for equal and wide-ranging global accessibility.”

He added that the company is providing the vaccine according to a non-profit model during the period of the pandemic “as part of the company’s commitment to public health… At the same time, the company is continuing research in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of AZD1222. We are proud of the company’s efforts, as well as those of the entire pharmaceutical industry, to help in saving lives by reducing the harsh socio-economic effects of this global pandemic.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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