Teva Positioning to Beat UK to Covid Shots

Refrigerators that will be used to store coronavirus vaccines, at the Teva Pharmaceuticals’ logistics center in Shoham, Israel. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Teva Pharmaceutical has signed a contract for exclusive right to distribute Covid-19 vaccinations in Israel, Globes reported on Sunday.

Teva Israel CEO Yossi Ofek said the company will be ready to begin distributing Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations in the next few weeks.

“We are waiting for the green light and the possibility that within several weeks millions of vaccination shots will arrive here. It’s looking like Israel will be the first place, after the U.S., that will receive vaccinations for a large part of the population, even before Britain.”

Ofek said that Teva’s logistics center in Shoham and Teva’s center in Kfar Saba are ready for storage of the Pfizer vaccinations which require minus 70°C, as well as for Moderna’s, which don’t need such a low temperature.

He acknowledged that handling these particular vaccines in the middle of a major health crisis will be challenging, but that they are working hard to make sure all goes well.

“This is something that we have not ever previously experienced in this field. We have developed methods in the country to cope with it, from the moment that the plane leaves the factory to us. The process is very complicated and has to be 100% successful,” he added.

Ofek outlined the procedure, saying that “the vaccinations will reach Shoham in special packages containing dry ice and will be divided into mini-packages of 970 vaccine shots in each mini-package. When the package lands we check the temperature thermometer to be certain that the vaccine was kept at the required temperature throughout the journey so far. We disconnect that Pfizer GPS and add Teva’s GPS. We break the big package down into mini-packages that are still kept frozen.”

From there on, the plan is to ship these mini-packages to several hundred end-points in health funds, care homes, and perhaps other institutions. The health fund take over responsibility for the package but at that stage deep-freeze temperatures are no longer necessary, and the packages can be kept at the standard temperature for vaccinations of 2-8°C for up to five days.

Teva’s job ends there. It will be up to the health funds or some other designated agency to administer the shots.

Regarding legal responsibility, he said “we have responsibility for any defect in the product during the period it is in our hands. Regarding responsibility for the product itself, for the efficacy and safety of it, these are part of agreements between Israel and Pfizer and Moderna, in which we are not involved.”

Teva’s stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was up 5.33% on Sunday amid a general rise in share prices.

The Tel Aviv 35 Index rose 2.09%, to 1,477.26 points; the Tel Aviv 125 Index rose 1.87%, to 1,522.30 points; and the BlueTech Global Index rose 1.54%, to 517.54 points. The TelBond 20 corporate bond index rose 0.12%, to 363.68 points. Turnover totaled NIS 952.3 million in equities and NIS 1.33 billion in bonds, according to Globes.

Melisron rose 5.58% and Azrieli Group rose 2.52%. Energean Oil & Gas rose 5.92% for the biggest rise on the Tel Aviv 35 Index. ICL rose 4.21%, NICE Systems rose 1.79% and Elbit Systems rose 0.74%.

Bank Shares joined the trend on a more moderate curve. Bank Leumi rose 2.07%, Bank Hapoalim rose 1.39%, Israel Discount Bank rose 3.13% and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank rose 1.40%.

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