Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that most Israelis will be able to get vaccinated by March, with a large shipment of the Pfizer vaccine expected to land in Israel as soon as next week.
Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced a new deal with the U.S. drugmaker in a joint press conference, just hours before Israel was set to enter a full lockdown.
Israeli HMOs earlier this week announced they have paused delivery of first coronavirus vaccine until the supply is replenished, with additional Pfizer shipments originally expected to arrive only in February.
Netanyahu and Edelstein, however, said the delivery will arrive much sooner than planned following the signing of a new agreement, in an effort to continue Israel's high-speed vaccination campaign that so far saw almost 2 million Israelis inoculated.
Netanyahu said the new shipment means the majority of Israelis over the age of 16 will be able to get inoculated within weeks.
"I am excited to announce a tremendous breakthrough that will take us out of the pandemic and bring us back to life," Netanyahu said at the start of the press conference.
"We will be the first country to emerge from the virus. The agreement I reached with Pfizer allows us to vaccinate all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 until the end of March and maybe even before that. We will vaccinate all relevant populations and anyone who wants to will be able to receive the vaccine," he said.
"The vaccination campaign will be called 'Getting Back to Life' and we will soon publish the order [in which sectors of the population will be vaccinated]," Netanyahu added. "The first plane is scheduled to arrive on Sunday and there will be more after that. As part of the agreement, we demanded that Israel becomes a global model for the rapid vaccination campaign."
The prime minister added the deal includes the transfer of statistical data on those vaccinated by the HMOs, without violating the patients' confidentiality.
He asked the public in the meantime to adhere to the lockdown restrictions, set to go into effect midnight Friday.
"Everyone needs to be careful in this last effort. Very soon, by the end of March, all Israeli citizens will be able to get vaccinated. We will be able to hug each other. On the next Seder night, if there are no surprises, we'll be able to share the holiday table with our grandparents."
Additionally, the first shipment of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine landed at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday afternoon.
The shipment arrived in Israel three days after the Health Ministry authorized the use of the vaccine in its inoculation campaign that has seen almost 2 million Israelis vaccinated in just two weeks.
The delivery contains more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine, which is only enough to fully vaccinate 50,000 people.
The vaccine will be used to inoculate those in at-risk groups who are confined to their homes, due to it being easier to transport than the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored in special containers at -70°C temperature.
First published: 20:55 , 01.07.21