With sufficient supplies, Israel seeks to redirect delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine

A medical worker prepares a dose of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Antwerp, Belgium, on March 18, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman

Israel no longer wants AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine (AZN.L) and is exploring with the company whether a large pipeline load could be sent elsewhere, Israel’s pandemic coordinator said on Wednesday.

“We are trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want (the vaccines) to get here and have to throw them in the trash,” the officer, Nachman Ash, told Army Radio, saying that Israel’s needs were being met by other suppliers.

In his comments, Ash made no reference to the AstraZeneca vaccine being associated with very rare blood clots in Europe. Many countries returned to administering it after the European Union’s anti-drug agency said the benefits outweighed the risks.

Israel launched a wide network last year as it tried to secure doses of vaccine at the height of the pandemic and pre-ordered from a number of companies.

In large part, it was decided to use the Pfizer (PFE.N) / BioNTech (22UAy.DE) vaccine, launching one of the fastest launches in the world. COVID-19 infections in Israel have fallen dramatically and the economy has reopened.

Israel is also buying COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna (MRNA.O), which uses similar messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Read More

Ash said that with supplies guaranteed by 2022, Israel no longer needs the 10 million doses it agreed to buy from AstraZeneca.

“They can certainly be used elsewhere in the world. At the moment, we are trying to find, together with the company, the best way to do this ”, he said.

“We believe it would be better if they (the vaccines) did not come to Israel and we agreed with the company on a way to divert them elsewhere.”

AstraZeneca officials did not immediately comment.

About 81% of Israeli citizens or residents over 16 – the age group eligible for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in Israel – received both doses.

About 167,000 of the 5.2 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Hamas Islamic Gaza Strip received at least one dose of the vaccine, with supplies from Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the global vaccine sharing program COVAX and China .

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