The Israeli Government is reportedly seeking to cancel an order for 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) COVID-19 vaccine. Israel currently leads the world in vaccine rollouts as over half of its population, roughly 5 million Israelis, have been vaccinated to this point. The country was known for having some of the strictest coronavirus measures in place, going as far as tracking its citizens movements to ensure physical distancing. Now, however, much of Israel has reopened, including most of its economy. Israel’s Coronavirus Chief Professor Nachman Ash stated that the country has a surplus of vaccines from Pfizer/BioNtech, so AstraZeneca’s vaccines are simply unneeded. “From our point of view it would be better if they don’t arrive in the country,” Professor Ash said.
What Professor Ash didn’t make any reference to is the growing controversy surrounding AstraZeneca’s vaccine. A small number of individuals who received the vaccine in the E.U. reportedly developed rare and unusual blood clots. A number of countries temporarily halted the distribution of the vaccine, but following a review, the vaccine has again been approved for use. AstraZeneca is reportedly hesitant to cancel the deal and prefers to work out an agreement with Israel to avoid any further bad publicity.
In the past, Israel has sent surplus vaccines to other countries to improve diplomatic relations. The Israeli Government is reportedly considering redirecting shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to other countries. “We are trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want the doses to arrive only to have them get thrown out right away…They can certainly be used in other places in the world. At the moment, we are trying to find, along with the company, the best way to do this,” Professor Ash stated.