With Enough Supplies, Israel Looks to Re-route AstraZeneca Vaccine Delivery

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is seen at a vaccination center in London. (Reuters/Henry Nicholls)

Israel no longer wants AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and is exploring with the company whether a big shipment in the pipeline could be sent elsewhere, Israel’s coronavirus commissioner said on Wednesday.

“We are trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want [the vaccines] to get here and have to throw them into the trash,” the official, Nachman Ash, told Army Radio, saying Israel’s needs were being met by other suppliers.

In his remarks, Ash made no reference to AstraZeneca’s vaccine having been associated with very rare blood clots in Europe. Many countries there resumed administering it after the European Union’s drug watchdog said benefits outweighed risks.

Israel cast a wide net last year when trying to secure vaccine doses at the height of the pandemic and pre-ordered from a number of companies.

It largely settled on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, launching one of the world’s swiftest rollouts. COVID-19 infections in Israel have dropped dramatically and the economy has reopened.

Israel is also buying the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, which uses a similar messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Ash said that with supplies secure through 2022, Israel no longer required the 10 million doses it agreed to purchase from AstraZeneca.

“They can certainly be used in other places in the world. At the moment, we are trying to find, along with the company, the best way to do this,” he said.

“We believe it would be best if they [the vaccines] did not come to Israel and we agree with the company on some sort of way to divert them elsewhere.”

Officials at AstraZeneca had no immediate comment.