JERUSALEM – Israel agreed a COVID vaccine swap with South Korea Tuesday, 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 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.
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.