The Jerusalem Post
Israel strikes vaccine swap deal with South Korea
Israel signed a deal with South Korea on Tuesday for the immediate transfer of 700,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from its warehouse to the Asian country.
In exchange, South Korea will return the same amount of vaccines to Israel from a future order, in September or October.
These are some of the approximately one million unused doses that Israel purchased from Pfizer last year and that stand to expire at the end of the month, after a deal to transfer the vaccines to the Palestinian Authority fell through. The vaccines are worth millions of dollars.
“We are continuing to protect the health of the citizens of Israel,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday in his announcement about the arrangement. “We have made a win-win deal: South Korea will receive vaccines from our existing stocks and we will receive vaccines from their future shipment.
“This will reduce the gaps and ensure that the State of Israel has a proper stock of vaccines.”
The agreement, which Israel has been negotiating over the last few days with the help of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, is the first of its kind.
According to an announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office, it will only enter into force after the completion of the transfer and other processes, including screening the vaccines on their arrival to South Korea.
The agreement was made under the leadership of the Health Ministry with the support of the Foreign Ministry and National Security Council, the announcement added. Moreover, Bennett spoke several times to Bourla to enable the deal.
“I would like to thank the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, a warm Jew who loves the State of Israel, for his great assistance,” Bennett said. “Together, we will defeat the virus.”
Last month, the PA rejected the transfer of more than a million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Israel, its health minister claiming that they “fall short of meeting the technical criteria” because they were about to expire.
Israel said it had given the Palestinians that information. Had the doses been accepted, it would have enabled the PA to inoculate its citizens months earlier than planned.
The deal fell through shortly before the recent Delta variant outbreak in Israel, which led the country to launch a massive teen vaccination effort, using some of the vaccine. However, even with a surge of teens getting the jab in the last few weeks, Israel still stood to throw away a substantial number of doses.
Bennett had said that teens wishing to get inoculated needed to do so by July 9 in order to receive their second dose three weeks later, before the vaccines expired at the end of the month.
Israel still has around 200,000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, but these vaccines are only approved for use by people over the age of 18. In addition, Israel signed a deal in April for another 18 million doses in case they are needed for booster shots.