JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel no longer wants the COVID-19 vaccine against AstraZeneca and is investigating with the company whether a large shipment in the pipeline could be sent elsewhere, the Israeli pandemic coordinator said on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want (vaccines) to come here and we have to throw them in the trash,” Nachman Ash told Army Radio, saying Israeli needs are being met by other suppliers.
In his remarks, Ash did not refer to the AstraZeneca vaccine associated with very rare blood clots in Europe. Many countries there have continued to apply after the European Union’s supervisory body said the benefits outweigh the risks.
Israel threw a wide net last year when it tried to secure doses of vaccines in the midst of a pandemic and ordered them through companies.
He mostly stopped at the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, launching one of the fastest introductions in the world. COVID-19 infections in Israel have dropped dramatically and the economy has reopened.
Israel also buys vaccines against COVID-19 from Moderna, which uses similar messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.
Ash said that with stock insurance by 2022, Israel no longer asked for the 10 million doses it had agreed to buy from AstraZeneca.
“They can certainly be used elsewhere in the world. We are currently trying together with the company to find the best way to do that,” he said.
“We believe it would be best if they (vaccines) don’t come to Israel and we agree with the company in some way to redirect them elsewhere.”
AstraZeneca officials had no immediate comment.
About 81% of Israeli citizens or residents over the age of 16 – the age group eligible for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in Israel – received both doses.
Approximately 167,000 of the 5.2 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Islamist Hamas in Gaza had at least one dose of the vaccine, and supplies came from Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the global vaccine distribution program COVAX and China.
(Reports by Jeffrey Heller and Ari Rabinovitch. Edited by Mark Potter)