Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he was working to bring as many coronavirus vaccines as possible to Israel, striking deals with all top COVID-19 vaccine developers who announced over 90 percent effectiveness.
“My goal is to bring as many vaccines as possible, from as many sources as possible, for as many citizens as possible and as quickly as possible,” Netanyahu said as cited by The Times of Israel.
The COVID-19 virus has infected over 54 million people and claimed the lives of more than 1.3 million. And tens of thousands more deaths are feared in the coming months, with the onset of cold weather and the holidays.
Israel, with a population of 9 million, has reported at least 324,293 cases of COVID-19 infection and 2,732 deaths according to the John Hopkins tally.
Netanyahu’s comments came after a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to discuss the possibility of developing Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
"The sides discussed issues of bilateral cooperation between the agencies and organizations concerned, in particular, prospects for cooperation on the Russian vaccine, including its possible supplies to and organization of production in Israel," TASS reported citing the Kremlin press service.
Russia had announced on November 9 that its Sputnik V vaccine against the COVID-19 virus was more than 90 percent effective.
US Drugmaker Pfizer reported on November 9 more than 90 percent efficacy findings for its vaccine developed in partnership with German biotechnology company BioNTech.
Israel signed a deal with Pfizer to receive 8 million doses of the drugmaker's potential COVID-19 vaccine, Netanyahu said on November 13.
Pfizer confirmed that it had finalized a critical supply agreement with Israel “that will provide the Israeli people with a COVID-19 vaccine once approved by regulatory authorities,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said.
The deal needs approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Israel’s health ministry, Israeli officials say. Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Pfizer is expected to apply for approval at the end of November.
In televised remarks, Netanyahu said the supply agreement marked “a great day for Israel” and added: “The goal is for the vaccine supply to start in January and increase in the months thereafter”.
US company Moderna said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine had proved 94.5 percent effective in a clinical trial.
Israel had already signed a deal with Moderna back in June for the future purchase of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
“Israel has signed with the company Moderna an arrangement that will allow us to buy vaccines,” Netanyahu said on June 17, according to a statement from his office.
“The company is advancing its development, they claim they can achieve it by the middle of next year, we hope that they succeed,” he said.