Israel signed an agreement with Moderna Friday to triple the number of coronavirus vaccines the American pharmaceutical company will supply.
The original agreement for two million doses was expanded to six million — enough for three million Israelis.
“This gives us hope, we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It was the government’s responsibility to make vaccines available, he said, and the public’s responsibility to follow the coronavirus guidelines. “Together we will beat COVID-19.”
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein hailed the extra vaccine purchase as “wonderful news for the citizens of Israel and for the Israeli economy.”
“There will not be a citizen that wants to get vaccinated that we cannot supply with a vaccine,” he said.
Echoing Netanyahu, Edelstein stressed that the general public needed to maintain social-distancing guidelines and avoid letting its guard down, as Israel sees a rise in new COVID cases.
The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to discuss approving the mass distribution of the Moderna vaccine later this month.
If approved, vaccines are to arrive in Israel at the end of December or early January, according to Ynet news.
However, Moderna’s Israeli chief medical officer Dr. Tal Zacks told Channel 12 that they expected to get approval by the end of the month and that most of the vaccines would come “toward the end of winter, beginning of spring” after the company filly ramps up production.
Israel may get Pfizer’s vaccines before then — perhaps as early as next week, Hebrew media reports said Thursday.
The first Israelis expected to be vaccinated are those working in medical services, the elderly and people at especially high risk, though no decision has been made, according to Ynet.
Israel is set to receive up to four million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of this month — enough for two million people — and the Health Ministry is preparing health maintenance organizations for the possibility of inoculating some 80,000 Israelis every day, Israeli TV networks reported Thursday.
With the Pfizer vaccines alone, up to a fifth of Israel’s population could be vaccinated by January — a far more optimistic projection than previously assumed.
The Pfizer vaccines, which may start arriving as early as next week, will not be used until they have received approval from the US FDA, Channel 12 News reported.
According to Channel 13, health officials are weighing whether to give approval to the vaccine before the FDA does. The FDA may approve Pfizer’s vaccine next week.
Britain on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for general use and said it would be introduced next week.