Photo: Flash90

Israel signs deal to acquire COVID-19 vaccine

The Israeli public must adhere to government-enacted health regulations or face “firm measures” to limit an alarming upward trend of the coronavirus morbidity rate. That is the warning from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, even though The Economist weekly ranked Israel as the world’s 7th most successful country to combat the spread of the disease.

After noting that “We got a ‘very good’ grade,” Netanyahu reflected the finding “merely reflects the past. It does not reflect the future. The future is starting right now. We have an increase in morbidity, we need to lower it, we need to continue to open the economy. We will also talk today about a responsible way to do this in transportation as well, but we must address the general increase and specific morbidity points.”

Speaking at a meeting of Jerusalem’s special coronavirus cabinet, Netanyahu officially announced the signing an agreement with the American Moderna biotech company believed to be in advanced stages of developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The Premier said Israel will be able to purchase the medication when it hopefully becomes available “by the middle of next year,” and that efforts to produce a domestic version are ongoing at the Biological Institute.

According to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, “there have been intense discussions lately in the Ministry and we are monitoring various developments around the world, the various companies’ publications, on their progress on the possible vaccine for Corona. There is indeed a lot of activity in this area, all our tests show that the U.S.-based Moderna company is probably at a more advanced stage in vaccine development and is currently preparing for so-called Phase III, practical experiments. And according to their assessments and the assessments of experts, within half a year to a year they will already be ready for production after experiments.”

Edelstein underscored that his “clear directive in the office is to continue to look for more options, not to put all the eggs in one basket, and as we have already heard from the Prime Minister, we are sure to have two eyes on what is being developed here in Israel, at the Biological Institute and at other companies in the hope that ‘blue and white’ development (Israeli) will also come.”

“However, even in the most optimistic outlook -in the expected months there will probably be no breakthrough in the vaccine issue, and so, following the discussion here, we will seek to maintain maximum openness together with maximum public caution and strict adherence to all Ministry of Health guidelines,” he added.