Israel is preparing to get rid of some 80,000 Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses after their shelf life expired. Previously, the Jewish state had salvaged some 700,000 nearly expired doses by sending them to South Korea in a swap deal.
Even though its campaign to inoculate elderly Israelis with a booster shot has only just been launched, Tel Aviv is reportedly poised to destroy thousands of vaccine doses that expired at the end of July, Israeli media reported on Saturday.
Some 80,000 unused doses, worth around $1.8 million, are expected to be “thrown in the trash,” Israel’s Channel 12 news reported. The government’s frantic attempts to either exchange them with other countries or inoculate as many of Israeli citizens as possible until the jabs were no longer usable has been only partially successful.
After an initial vaccine swap deal with the Palestinians fell through due to concerns that the doses were too close to their expiration date, Israel struck a similar deal with South Korea, agreeing to ship some 700,000 doses of the nearly 1.4 million that were set to expire by the end of July. In return, South Korea agreed to send the same number of doses to Israel in the fall.
Tel Aviv had planned to use a further 600,000 doses to vaccinate children aged 12 to 15, with the fate of the remaining 100,000 being unclear at the time. Apparently, the majority of them will now go straight into the trash can, with the dump expected to become the highest-ever number of coronavirus vaccines thrown away by Tel Aviv in one go.
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Responding to the report, the Israeli Health Ministry neither confirmed nor denied the imminent destruction of the doses, citing “confidentiality agreements.”
“The State of Israel is managing its stock of vaccines while paying attention to the expiry of the product,” the ministry said, as cited by The Times of Israel.
The disposal of vaccines might have come just at the wrong time, however, as the Jewish state is ramping up its vaccination drive. It will be the first country in the world to offer third vaccine shots, known as booster shots, to people aged over 60, amid concerns about the waning efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against the highly contagious Delta variant. Last month, its Health Ministry reported that the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing symptomatic infection had plunged to 64%, but maintained that the shots were still 93% effective against preventing severe illness.
The booster-shot campaign formally launched on Friday, with President Isaac Herzog, 60, becoming one of the first to be revaccinated as part of the new scheme. Around 59% of the Israeli population has been fully vaccinated with two doses so far.
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