PA health minister: We’ll seek Israeli vaccines that don’t expire until July

The Palestinian Authority will seek to receive Israeli vaccines from Pfizer which do not expire until the end of July, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila tells the PA’s official WAFA news agency.

Israel announced a plan to send over one million coronavirus vaccine doses to the Palestinians on Friday and sent an initial shipment of 100,000 vaccines to Ramallah. Under the terms of the deal, Israel was handing over its soon-to-expire vaccines in exchange for the PA’s shipment of fresh Pfizer vaccines, which are scheduled to arrive later in 2021.

But the PA canceled the deal, saying the vaccines were too close to their expiration date; the doses were set to expire at the end of June.

Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila (WAFA)

Al-Kaila says an Israeli delay in accepting Ramallah’s conditions led to the PA’s decision to cancel the deal. Al-Kaila says the deal was originally concluded in May, with the notion that the vaccines would arrive at the end of the month.

“After the Israeli side stalled and the delivery of the vaccines was delayed until the day before yesterday, their expiry date is near, so we refused to accept them and returned them to the Israeli side,” al-Kaila says.

Per al-Kaila, Israel had sought to set two conditions for the transfer of vaccines: first, that no doses would go to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group. Second, that the loan agreements would not designate the Palestinian Authority as “the State of Palestine,” as the body often refers to itself in official documents.

According to al-Kaila, Ramallah has a series of agreements with the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to receive tranches of doses between now and the end of the year: 1,795,000 between July and September and 2 million between October and December.

But those shipments are not expected to arrive on time, al-Kaila says, due to “global demand for the vaccine.”

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