| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

With enough supplies, Israel seeks to re-route AstraZeneca vaccine delivery

Israel’s pandemic coordinator announced on Wednesday that Israel no longer wants AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and is exploring with the company whether a big shipment in the pipeline could be sent elsewhere.

“We are trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want (the vaccines) to get here and have to throw them into the trash,” the official, Nachman Ash, told Army Radio, saying Israel’s needs were being met by other suppliers.

In his remarks, Ash made no reference to AstraZeneca’s vaccine having been linked to very rare blood clots in Europe. Several countries there resumed giving it to recipients after the European Union’s drug watchdog said benefits outweighed risks.

Last year, Israel cast a wide net when trying to secure vaccine jabs at the height of the pandemic and pre-ordered from a number of companies.

It largely settled on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, launching one of the world’s quickest rollouts. Coronavirus cases in Israel have dwindled significantly and the economy has reopened.

Israel is also buying the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, which uses a similar messenger RNA technology.

Ash said that with supplies secure through 2022, Israel no longer required the 10 million shots it agreed to procure from AstraZeneca.

“They can certainly be used in other places in the world. At the moment, we are trying to find, along with the company, the best way to do this,” he said.

“We believe it would be best if they (the vaccines) did not come to Israel and we agree with the company on some sort of way to divert them elsewhere.”

Officials at AstraZeneca had no immediate comment.

Nearly 81% of Israeli citizens or residents over 16 – the age group eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Israel – have received both shots.

Some 167,000 of the 5.2 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Islamist Hamas-run Gaza have had at least one jab of vaccine, with supplies coming in from the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Russia, the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program and China.

  • Reuters