Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Israel will have millions of coronavirus vaccines available for every Israeli to get multiple doses.
Israel last week signed a deal for vaccine purchase with UK-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, following a deal with U.S. company Pfizer a week earlier after it announced its vaccine is 90% effective. Israel also has an agreement with American biotech company Moderna that was signed back in June.
"There is no logistical difficulty in providing the proper storage for vaccines or in their delivery to all parts of the country," Netanyahu said after his tour of a medical logistics facility in the center of the country, tasked with storage and dissemination of coronavirus vaccines.
The prime minister, accompanied by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, visited the facility that is slotted to receive the vaccines and store them in specialized refrigerators before they would be administered to the public.
"We are nearing the end of the pandemic," Netanyahu said. "There is a huge light at the end of the tunnel."
Edelstein, however, was more cautious in his optimism, saying although we are seeing the end of the crisis, there is still a need for public cooperation. "We urge the public to wear masks, maintain social distancing and take all the necessary precautions. Only then will we be able to live alongside the virus until the pandemic is over."
Director General of the Health Ministry Professor Hezi Levi, who also attended the visit, said there are still complicated steps that must be taken before vaccines are available for the public's use and the ministry - under the guidance of Netanyahu - will determine to whom and when they become available.
Both Pfizer and Moderna announced their vaccine showed over 95% success in trials and have requested emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Association.
AstraZeneca also reported over 90% success though the New York Times has reported the company initially administered a lower dosage of the vaccine that yielded better results than the dosage they intended to administer.
Moderna has a 66 million dollar (NIS 230,000) contractual agreement with Israel to supply 500,000 vaccines that are expected to be the first to arrive probably around March or April 2021. If the Pfizer vaccine is approved, eight million vaccines enough for four million people will arrive in the country.
The Health Ministry reported on Thursday over 1000 new coronavirus cases in the preceding 24-hour period, the highest daily count in over a month. After 60,000 tests conducted, the positivity rate stood at 1.8%, higher than 1.4% reported just two days earlier.