Israel’s Health Ministry on Friday reached an understanding with Swedish-British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to receive millions of doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and the two parties are discussing the final details of the agreement, according to a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Ministry and AstraZeneca.

According to the agreement, AstraZeneca will provide Israel with approximately 10 million doses of its AZD1222 vaccine, sufficient to vaccinate 5 million people. While the pandemic is ongoing, the vaccine will be sold according to a nonprofit model, according to the statement.

The first supply is expected to reach Israel in the first half of 2021, subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities in Europe, the United States and Israel.

Israel is currently negotiating multiple vaccine-related deals with the aim of securing enough vaccines to treat every Israeli who wishes to be vaccinated. The statement emphasized that despite media reports to the contrary, vaccination will be on a strictly voluntary basis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the AstraZeneca deal “another important achievement for Israel,” according to the statement.

“We want to make sure that anyone who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to do so as soon as possible. It is better to overachieve in this case,” said Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether children will be eligible for treatment with vaccines purchased from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, as none of the companies included children under the age of 12 in their clinical trials.

“Including children in such studies is more complex in terms of ethical approvals. Also, most children who contract the virus recover easily, therefore they are not common participants in COVID-19 vaccine trials. I suppose the study will be expanded later,” Dr. Zachi Grossman, president of the Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association, told Israel Hayom.

“I can’t imagine anyone giving a child a vaccine that has only been tested on adults,” he added.

The Pediatric Association has asked the Health Ministry to include its specialists in the team that will regulate the vaccination process, in light of their experience in dealing with those who are hesitant or outright refuse to be vaccinated.

“A significant part of the population is hesitant or opposed to vaccination. The polls state that 20 percent of the population does not intend to get vaccinated. There is a lot of misinformation in the media and on social networks,” said Grossman.

The Health Ministry’s Advisory Committee on Infectious Diseases is currently discussing the prioritization of risk groups. The ministry’s pandemic task force has held a similar discussion about at-risk populations and mentioned health-care workers, including nursing home workers, as an additional group.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.