'Israel to close vaccine deal in days,' sources say after PM calls Pfizer CEO

Netanyahu holds urgent talks with chief Albert Bourla after the U.S. company informed the Health Ministry it will halt negotiations with Israel over delay in purchasing COVID-19 vaccine, of which only 50 million doses can be produced this year

Itamar Eichner |
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning talked on the phone with the CEO of the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and officials said the two sides are very close to signing a deal that would allow Israel to acquire coronavirus vaccine.
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  • Pfizer Inc said last week its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, making the company and its German partner BioNTech SE the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.
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    The trials of Pfizer's COVID vaccine
    The trials of Pfizer's COVID vaccine
    The trials of Pfizer's COVID vaccine
    (Photo: EPA)
    Netanyahu spoke with Albert Bourla and the company's legal counsel an attempt to remove all barriers and bureaucratic difficulties and sign an agreement allowing the purchase of millions of doses.
    "Significant progress has been made during the conversation, which will enable the signing of an agreement between the State of Israel and Pfizer in the coming days," said the Prime Minister's Office in a statement.
    The conversation is the second the prime minister held with the head of the U.S. company.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Israel, unlike many other Western countries, does not have an agreement with Pfizer, putting a lot of pressure of the government to clinch the deal in a short time period because the company can only produce 50 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. In 2021 it is set to produce 1.3 billion doses.
    According to Israeli Public Broadcaster KAN, Pfizer has made it clear to Israel that since the Health Ministry is delaying the purchase of the vaccine, it is interested in entering negotiations with other countries, prompting the prime minister to make an urgent call in an effort to advance the deal.
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