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Israel-UK vaccine swap said to fall through, but other nations may be in play

Number of serious cases drops slightly despite rise in daily infections, as inoculations seen to be doing their job

A young teen receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Misgav Ladach hospital in Jerusalem on June 6, 2021, as Israel begins its coronavirus vaccination campaign for 12- to 15-year-olds. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)
A young teen receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Misgav Ladach hospital in Jerusalem on June 6, 2021, as Israel begins its coronavirus vaccination campaign for 12- to 15-year-olds. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)

A potential COVID-19 vaccine swap between Israel and the UK has fallen through due to technical difficulties, according to multiple reports Friday.

However, according to the Haaretz daily, Jerusalem is currently in contact with two other countries to possibly agree on a swap.

Israel has been seeking a recipient for over one million excess Pfizer vaccine doses it has that will expire by the end of July. A swap deal would see it provide the doses now to a recipient nation and in return receive one of that nation’s future shipments from Pfizer.

Haaretz and The Guardian, citing Israeli officials, said an attempt to seal a swap with London had fallen through due to unspecified technical difficulties.

The Israeli daily reported that Israel was in talks with two other countries on a potential swap, and was also still looking at the possibility of reaching an agreement on the matter with the Palestinian Authority, after Ramallah canceled a previously agreed-upon exchange.

If Israel fails to find buyers, vaccine doses worth hundreds of millions of dollars could be thrown away within weeks.

Meanwhile on Friday daily cases remained at some 300, a number health officials fear could climb to some 500 in the coming days amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.

However, Israel’s high vaccination rates seem to be keeping the disease at bay, with serious cases remaining stable and even declining slightly, standing at 27 as of Friday afternoon.

People wear protective face masks as they shop at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, on June 29, 2021 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Channel 12 news noted that six of the serious cases this week were of vaccinated individuals. All were over 60. But Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told the network this was not unexpected, as the vaccine is known not to be 100 percent effective.

The death toll remained at 6,429, with only one fatality in over two weeks, indicating the success of the mass national vaccination campaign in largely protecting against serious morbidity and mortality.

Still, health officials are monitoring the situation closely and could yet recommend renewed limitations on gatherings should the pandemic once more pose a serious threat.

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