Israel Reportedly Seeking to Bring Forward Pfizer Vaccine Deliveries

YERUSHALAYIM -
An employee opens a freezer containing Pfizer’s vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as he works at SLE, a unit of Teva Pharmaceuticals, near Shoham, Jan. 4.  (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

As Israel experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, health officials are working to speed up the delivery of its next shipment of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

The next shipment of vaccines is due to arrive in a few months, according to the report.

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy and other officials have been in contact with Pfizer in the hope of bringing forward the delivery date.

So far, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has not been personally involved in the talks, the report said. His predecessor, Binyamin Netanyahu, directly negotiated speedy delivery of the initial shipments of Pfizer vaccine for use in Israel’s national inoculation program, making personal phone calls to CEO Albert Bourla.

The current stock of vaccines in the country is valid for use only until the end of July and since the second of the necessary two injections is given three weeks after the first, those who want to be fully vaccinated will need to do so until July 9.

Israel has recently begun offering vaccines to 12- to 15-year-olds, who previously were not included in the national vaccination plan, and in the past few days health officials have increasingly advised that parents have their children inoculated.

The efforts at obtaining the vaccines came as Israel for the second day in a row recorded more than 100 new COVID-19 cases. Daily caseloads had previously dropped to low dozens or even less, until the recent resurgence of patients, blamed on the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus.

Bennett was set to meet with senior officials on Wednesday to determine the next steps.

Prior to that, ministers voted to reestablish the Coronavirus Cabinet, a panel of ministers tasked with forming policy to counter the virus outbreak.

The Cabinet will include Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana.