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Vaccine stopwatch

The 700,000 Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses promised to South Korea are on their way to the southeast Asian nation.

The plane carrying the vaccine doses departed Israel for Seoul during the day on Tuesday, following an agreement signed between the two countries on Monday night.


Israel and South Korea Sign COVID-19 Vaccine Exchange Agreement
The doses sent to South Korea are expiring at the end of this month. In October, South Korea will return the same number of fresh vaccine doses to Israel that were ordered by Seoul. Pfizer approved the deal with Israeli and South Korean health officials, Haaretz reported.

The arrangement finalized by the Health Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Prime Minister’s Office – including approval by Pfizer — “will facilitate the effective utilization of the present and future vaccine inventories of both countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“South Korea will return the same quantity of vaccines to Israel from a future order in September-October 2021, the statement said.

“This is the first agreement of its kind for the exchange of coronavirus vaccines that has been signed between Israel and another country. The State of Israel welcomes the agreement and sees mutual advantages in it for both Israel and South Korea,” the PMO said.

“It should be noted that the agreement will take effect upon the completion of all processes, including testing the vaccines after their arrival in South Korea,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla several times in the past two weeks to facilitate the deal and in regard to the formation of future vaccines policy.

“We have made a win-win deal: South Korea will receive vaccines from our existing stock and we will receive vaccines from their future shipment,” Bennett said.

“Thus we are plugging the holes and we will ensure that the State of Israel has a proper stock of vaccines,” he added.

Bennett thanked the Pfizer chair and CEO, “a warm Jew who loves the State of Israel” for his assistance, and “the Health Minister and the people at the Health Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the NSC, who worked around the clock. Together, we will defeat the coronavirus,” he said.


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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.