One million vaccines from the U.S. biotech company Moderna will arrive in Israel next week, rather than in March as had previously been agreed, boosting dwindling supplies that had led to expectations of a dramatic slowdown in the country’s mass inoculation drive, Channel 12 reported on Thursday.
The report was not immediately confirmed by the Health Ministry.
If confirmed, however, the shipment could make up for a shortfall predicted by the ministry for January, before new batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrive.
The Moderna vaccine has not yet been used in Israel as part of its immunization program. The Health Ministry has not officially announced its approval for use in the country, but is expected to do so after the FDA approved it for emergency use in the U.S.
Israel has reached a pace of 150,000 vaccine doses every day for the past three days, giving shots to a total of nearly 800,000 people.
The mass vaccination drive started at the beginning of last week and has so far focused mainly on health-care workers, those aged over 60, and at-risk groups. Teachers are also being added to the roster.
Though not yet available to the general public, some vaccination centers have been opening their doors to anyone who comes at the end of each day in an effort to make sure vaccine units available for immediate use do not go to waste. So far some 30% of citizens over the age of 60 have had their first shot, according to Health Ministry figures.
However, a shortage of injections threatens to force a semi-freeze on the campaign for two weeks in January.
More Pfizer vaccine supplies are only due in February and current stocks will run out in about 10 days at the current pace of inoculation, Channel 13 reported Wednesday.
The scheduled pause would allow those who have received the first dose to get the second dose, but new first doses would generally not be given.