Israel on Wednesday received the country’s first shipment of a coronavirus vaccine as authorities await emergency approval for its use from the United States.
Speaking after the shipment arrived at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the occasion as “one of the most moving moments” of his time as premier.
“I believe in this vaccine,” he said, adding that he wanted “to be the first in the state of Israel to be vaccinated with this vaccine.”
Israel has agreed to import a total of 8 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, local media reported, adding that the first batch to arrive is relatively small and would be used to test the preservation of cold chain storage.
The vaccine developed by German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, a logistical challenge.
Israeli authorities have not yet approved any vaccine for use on the population and are waiting to follow the decisions of the US Food and Drug Administration, which are expected imminently.
Israel has also reportedly signed an agreement with US company Moderna to supply a further 6 million doses of its vaccine.
The first vaccine shipment arrives in Israel the day after Britain became the first western country to initiate a mass vaccination campaign.
British authorities granted emergency approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 2.
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Source: Vanguard Newspaper