An initial shipment of Pfizer Inc. coronavirus vaccines arrived in Israel this morning, one day earlier than first announced.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at Ben Gurion International Airport to welcome the first plane load, which local media is to be used in a trial run to test transportation and storage procedures. A larger batch containing 110,000 doses is slated to arrive tomorrow.
“I have been serving as Prime Minister of Israel for more than few years and this is one of the most moving moments that I have worked on very hard, for long months, with the Health Minister and the people of his ministry, in order to bring relief and a solution to the coronavirus pandemic,” stated Netanyahu on the tarmac, as a forklift lowering the first shipment.
The development follows the Israeli leader’s eighth conversation last night with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla last night.
“We are here today on a great holiday for the State of Israel,” declared Netanyahu. Even though “we see the light at the end of the pandemic,” he also emphasized the continued need “follow the rules regarding masks, hands and distancing.”
After explaining appropriate permits to be granted in the coming days, the Premier added “I believe in this vaccine” and that he intends to be the first among millions of Israelis to be vaccinated,.
The Prime Minister added: “I would like to direct your attention to the sun that is shining, a beautiful sunny day in every sense. It is not self-evident that the State of Israel, a country with nine million inhabitants, receives the vaccines at the same time as the leading countries of the world. Now we will see to it that they reach our amazing logistical storage center, which is a few minutes from here, with refrigeration and the highest medical standards in the world.”
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech last month agreed to provide Israel with 8 million doses of the vaccine, which Britain became the first country to administer yesterday.
According to a statement from Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen earlier this week, the elderly and other high-risk populations will be the first to be inoculated.
2,932 Israelis have died of the coronavirus. There have been 348,968 total infections. Currently, there are 14,905 active cases, with 310 patients listed as in critical condition.
Israel’s Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen revealed this morning that COVID-19 has been detected at least 50 retirement and care homes, amid a third wave of the pandemic.
Despite Health Ministry data of a 2.5% positivity rate of those tested in the last 24 hours and a surge in the disease, the Coronvirus Cabinet approved the re-opening of all shopping malls nationwide this morning as had been slated.
According to the annual Alternative Poverty Report by the Latet NGO, there has been a nearly 50% increase in the number of impoverished Israelis due to COVID-19, with 268,000 people living below the poverty line.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has announced that starting tomorrow, workers crossing from the Palestinian Authority into Israel will be administered coronavirus tests by Home Front Command troops in cooperation with the Civil Administration, due to the rapid spread of the disease in the West Bank.