Did Netanyahu Phone Pfizer's Boss to Jump The Vaccine Queue?

Published January 10th, 2021 - 11:25 GMT
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at a large vaccination centre open by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center on December 31, 2020 in the Israeli coastal city. Israel began its third coronavirus lockdown, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced optimism that a "world record" vaccination drive will restore a degree of normality within weeks. JACK GUEZ / AFP
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at a large vaccination centre open by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center on December 31, 2020 in the Israeli coastal city. Israel began its third coronavirus lockdown, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced optimism that a "world record" vaccination drive will restore a degree of normality within weeks. JACK GUEZ / AFP
Highlights
Israel has already vaccinated 1.8million – a fifth of its population – in three weeks.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the boss of vaccine firm Pfizer 17 times in just days to secure more supplies of the Covid jab.

The country is also said to have agreed to pay 50 per cent more per dose than the UK – and now has enough to immunise all over-16s by the end of March.

Israel has already vaccinated 1.8million – a fifth of its population – in three weeks. Yet it did not order any Pfizer-BioNTech jabs until mid-November, well after Britain arranged to buy 40 million doses.

It reportedly agreed a price of at least £45 per dose, compared with the UK’s £30, with Mr Netanyahu on the phone to Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla. 

Yesterday a senior opposition official, speaking anonymously, accused the Israeli government of ‘jumping the queue by paying more’.

A Pfizer spokesman said: ‘Our pricing is based on volume, advance commitment, equity and affordability principles.’

Israel's health ministry says it is dividing up its Pfizer/BioNTech shipments so that small batches can be sent to remote parts of the country.

Some nurses have managed to increase efficiency by extracting six doses from each vial rather than the advertised five, health minister Yuli Edelstein says.

To avoid waste, some people outside of the vulnerable target groups have been vaccinated anyway after walking into a clinic and receiving spare doses that would otherwise have had to be thrown away.

Many of them are younger people who are vaccinated, despite their lower risk level, at the end of the day to stop extra doses going to waste. 100,000 Israelis between the ages of 20 and 40 have been inoculated.

By contrast, the rollout in Europe and America has been hampered by blunders requiring some of the Pfizer vaccine stocks to be discarded.

Unlike Britain, Israel has stuck to the two-dose regime - meaning that more than a million people will have received their full double dosage by the end of January.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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