The Hadassah Medical Center in Yerushalayim ordered some 1.5 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, its CEO Professor Ze’ev Rotstein told Army Radio.
In an interview with the station, Rotstein also said the hospital will hand over all necessary data to the Health Ministry in hope of seeing Sputnik V approved for use in Israel.
If approved, the vaccine will reportedly be available to Israelis within up to three months.
Should the Health Ministry strike it down, Hadassah will use it in its offshoots abroad, Rotstein said, adding that the Russian office already inoculated a number of people with it and saw good results.
“If we turn down the Russian vaccine before the regulatory process is complete and other countries provide it to their populations, we will have no one to blame but ourselves,” Rotstein said.
“We have respect for the Russian vaccine and our Moscow branch has been involved in its human trial,” he said, “We are hearing very good things.”
Thus far, the vaccine has been tested for safety but not efficacy. “Many other vaccine trials have been suspended for safety concerns, but not the Russian one,” Rostein said, though he conceded that the Russian regulatory process is not as stringent as the one employed by most Western countries.
“This is a battle for billions of dollars all over the world,” he said. “Every country wants to have a working vaccine for its people while the pandemic continues to claim many lives, so no potential vaccine should be discounted. But if this vaccine proves safe and effective at the end of the trial, we must certainly consider it,” Rotstein said.
“We are working against the clock,” he said. “All the major pharmaceutical companies are trying to be first to market.
“Israel has already placed a tentative order with Moderna and other companies, but we should reserve as many vaccine options as possible,” Rotstein said, adding that his hospital would act as a Beta subject.
According to reports in the Russian media, some of the volunteers reported severe fever and cardiac problems after inoculations. The hiccup did not seem to result in a halt of the trials.
The vaccine’s safety and the lack of transparency around its development have already been questioned by international experts.