Ministry of Health officials said Tuesday that Israel may have to tighten coronavirus restrictions within 7-10 days to prevent another common lockout while things are escalating across the country.
Officials raised their concerns at a meeting with hospital leaders as the ministry prepares to begin rolling out the vaccine at several hospitals next Sunday. Although the hospitals participating in the pilot have not been named, it is expected that the country’s major medical centers, such as Sheba near Tel Aviv or Rambam in Haifa, will receive the vaccines first.
Some leaders have criticized the Ministry of Health after learning that they will not start vaccinating their employees later. Barzilai, Wolfson and Hillel Yaffe hospital chiefs wanted to start vaccination with the major hospitals.
Responding to questions at the meeting, the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hezi Levy said only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Israel in the first quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said in an interview on Russian media that Israel did not purchase the Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputink-V.
“We don’t know much about it, there were no compromises, we didn’t get any documents so we couldn’t tell if the Russian vaccine was good or not,” Edelstein said.
When asked if Israel intended to buy Sputnik-V, Edelstein replied that Israel was “negotiating with other companies as well.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff did not raise new concerns about data on Moderna Inc coronavirus vaccine in documents released publicly Tuesday, paving the way for U.S. authority to make a second vaccine easier to handle.
FDA staff said a two-dose schedule of Moderna vaccine was highly effective in preventing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The comments were set out in documents prepared for Thursday’s meeting of outside experts, which will consider whether the U.S. emergency use permit (EUA) for Moderna vaccines should be approved.
FDA reviewers did not raise specific safety issues with the use of the vaccine in adults over 18 years of age.
Israel signed a procurement agreement with the company for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the early days of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Edelstein will be among the first to receive the vaccine for COVID-19 on Saturday night in a bid to strengthen public confidence in the safety of the vaccine.
It is not yet clear whether President Reuven Rivlin will also be among the first to receive the vaccine, although he has said he is willing to do so.