Israel will transfer the vaccines to South Korea in an effort to inoculate more of the Asian nation’s citizens this month while Seoul will send the same number of doses to Tel Aviv as early as September.
Israel has agreed on a Covid-19 vaccine swap with South Korea, sending 700,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to Seoul “immediately” in return for the same number in coming months.
A statement from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office on Tuesday said the deal, the first of its kind for Israel, would allow more effective use of the vaccine stocks of both countries.
The statement added that Bennett had spoken to Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla about the arrangement.
Under the vaccine swap arrangement announced by both governments, South Korea will give Israel back the same number of shots, already on order from Pfizer, in September and October.
Briefing reporters in Jerusalem, Bennett said the vaccines were being loaded aboard a plane within hours of the deal’s announcement, and that South Korean officials would verify their viability.
“This is a win-win deal,” he said in an earlier statement. “Together we will beat the pandemic.”
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said the deal would allow South Korea to accelerate its vaccination plans, including providing shots to employees in some sectors that have a high amount of contact with other people.
Palestinian Authority calls off vaccine deal with Israel
Israel received a huge supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine shortly after its approval last year following an arrangement with the producers to share data about its impact.
That deal helped Israel roll out one of the world’s fastest inoculation drives but has also raised concerns about unused stock expiring.
The Palestinian Authority last month cancelled a deal that would have seen a million jabs from Israel’s inventory sent to the occupied West Bank.
The PA said the doses “were about to expire”. Israel insisted they were “completely valid”.
More than 80 percent of Israel’s adult population is fully inoculated against Covid-19 but cases are again rising, with officials raising concern about the surging Delta variant’s ability to evade vaccine protection and cause mild illness.