The Health Ministry on Thursday released a large portion of the clinical data it shared with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer regarding the effects of its COVID-19 vaccine on the Israeli population.
As part of an information-sharing agreement struck between the company and Israel, Pfizer had received troves of medical data in exchange for a continued supply of its vaccine in a move that was panned by critics who raised ethical concerns, including possible privacy violations.
The ministry’s decision to reveal parts of the data comes eight months after the Movement for Freedom of Information petitioned a court to disclose the full agreement between the state and the drug giant.
"For the purpose of disclosing the information to the public, the files have been inspected and some information was blacked out to avoid infringing on patients' privacy,” the ministry wrote in a statement.
The ministry also said that at least one other document that was relayed to Pfizer had yet to be reviewed and was not yet included in the current data dump.
"The Health Ministry continues to negotiate with various companies and entities to procure COVID-19 vaccines with the aim of diversifying its vaccine stock with different technologies and ensuring that the vaccine will stay available for the entire population in the future," the ministry stated.
"Disclosure of certain details in the agreement could undermine these proceedings and impair the ministry's ability to perform its function. The ministry is currently examining the possibility of disclosing information that was previously confidential."
Movement for Freedom of Information CEO Rachel Edri-Hulta said that her group had petitioned a court after its petition to Health Ministry for access to the same data that Pfizer receives was ignored.
She said that now that the information has arrived, the group will further investigate whether Pfizer and Israel also have a commercial agreement on top of an information-sharing agreement.