Israel seals deal for four million Covid-19 vaccines

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that his government has clinched a deal with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to buy four million doses of its potentially game-changing coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccine, which developers Pfizer and BioNTech plan to begin rolling out within weeks, offers hope of escape from the cycle of lockdowns and new waves of sickness and death that have gripped the world this year.

"We have signed a deal with Pfizer to buy four million vaccines for Israel" Netanyahu told a news conference in Tel Aviv.

"It's a big day for Israel and a big day on the path to victory over corona," he said, adding that the first doses could be made available from January, if the vaccine receives the necessary final approvals in Israel and the United States.

The results of phase 3 clinical trials showed that the mRNA vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms and did not produce adverse side effects among thousands of volunteers.

At the cost of $40 per treatment, which consists of two separate shots, richer nations have rushed to order tens of millions of doses. But it is less clear what poorer nations can expect.

Israel has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with its per capita infection rate topping the world in September, before a second nationwide lockdown brought daily infections back down to triple figures.

Confirmed cases now number more than 320,000 in Israel's population of nine million, of whom 2,707 have died.