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Israel to sign for 10 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine


Israel is on the cusp of signing an agreement with the British multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to receive enough doses of its vaccine candidate to inoculate and protect five million Israelis.The company, which is developing its COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with the University of Oxford, reported on Thursday that according to data from mid-stage trials, its vaccine candidate produces a robust immune response in older adults.

Known as AZD1222, the vaccine uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the AstraZeneca website describes. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the novel coronavirus.

“Another achievement for the citizens of Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “My policy is that anyone who wants to get vaccinated will have the opportunity to be vaccinated… We will continue to work to ensure that we have as many vaccines as possible, from as many sources as possible.”

According to a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry, Israel will receive the vaccine, if successful, as part of the company’s not-for-profit program. For the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, AstraZeneca is using all vaccine sales proceeds to cover the costs of production and distribution exclusively.Once signed, this agreement will mark the largest amount of vaccines from any one company to be sold to Israel. Earlier this month, Israel signed an agreement with Pfizer to receive eight million doses of its vaccine candidate, which recently completed its Phase III human trials. Israel also has contracts with Moderna Inc. for an undisclosed number of doses and with Arcturus for four million doses.The initial supply is expected to arrive in Israel in the first half of 2021, subject to the approvals of Europe, the United States and Israel.

“This is a historic agreement led by the company’s local representation,” said the CEO of AstraZeneca Israel. He said it will “enable access to the vaccine to millions of Israeli citizens as part of an international policy for equal and comprehensive vaccine accessibility worldwide.”The joint statement added that Israel continues to be in dialogue with our companies that are production vaccines.“A months-long strategic effort is paying off,” said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. But he cautioned that even as vaccines arrive in the country, it will be a long time before herd immunity is achieved. “We must adhere to the guidelines: masks, social distancing and good hygiene.”

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