In the midst of the sustained growth of cases that plagues the world, Pfizer decided to stop vaccine shipments to Israel after reporting a delay in payments. As published The Jerusalem Post, the authorities of the US pharmaceutical company warned that the country did not transfer the money corresponding to the last 2.5 million doses, so they decided to interrupt the delivery of 700,000 vaccines that were due to arrive this Sunday. According to the spread, Pfizer called the Israeli conduct a “banana republic”.
The Israeli newspaper reports that “senior Pfizer officials said they are very concerned that the current transitional government is not paying them and that the company is not going to allow them to take advantage of it.” It also states that “they do not understand how this can happen in an organized country.”
The entire incident takes place in the midst of a situation in which Israel carried out the most comprehensive vaccination campaign in the world, thanks to privileged access to the vaccine. The laboratory that now calls it “banana republic”, explained at the time that it granted such a quantity of vaccines because the country offered free access to its centralized health system in exchange, which would allow Pfizer enormous savings in its clinical research on the effects of your product.
Besides, of course, that Israel, as the Jerusalem Post, it agreed to pay “a much higher price for each dose than any other country.” In the Argentine case, the laboratory imposed special conditions to guarantee both the collection and the indemnity in case of legal disputes. Although the Ministry of Health reached agreements with the local authorities of Pfizer, these were scrapped by the global leadership of the company. Officials assess that the decision had more to do with the global shortage of vaccines than with the negotiation itself.
According to information provided by senior officials of the pharmaceutical company, all the deliveries to Israel promised in the initial agreement of November 2020 have already been completed. “The company is currently working with the Israeli government to update the agreement, to supply additional vaccines to the country. As long as this work continues, shipments can be adjusted“Pfizer said in a statement. The Health Ministry declined to comment on the statement.
What happened, the company explained, was that although Israel paid for the 10 million doses prescribed in that first agreement, in February the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the executive director of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, reached a new agreement to supply the country with additional doses. The delay in payments for these latest vaccines would have triggered the decision of the pharmaceutical company to stop shipments.
According to the Israeli newspaper, the Yuli Edelstein Health Ministry has been pressuring the authorities to approve the purchase of new vaccines. After some talks, the government had scheduled a meeting for last Monday, that finally He decided to postpone it “indefinitely” because of a conflict between Netanyahu and the leader of the opposition Kajol-Laban Party, Benny Gantz.
The meeting was canceled by Gantz, after Netanyahu refused to approve his appointment as permanent minister of Justice, as his term as minister ended on April 2, three months after he took office in place of Avi Nissenkorn, who had resigned.
Yuli Edelstein tried in vain on Sunday to persuade Gantz to resume negotiations and be able to go ahead with the Pfizer deal. “If this meeting is so urgent for Edelstein,” said a Gantz spokesman, “all he has to do is call Prime Minister Netanyahu and ask him to appoint a justice minister.”
Gantz’s office further stated that the purchase of the 2.5 million vaccines had already been approved and that any delay in payment was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. He also recalled that the country had already purchased 27 million doses, which include vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, “which should be sufficient for the near future.”
Meanwhile, health officials worry that Israel will miss an opportunity to buy the vaccines. Coronavirus Commissioner Professor Nachman Ash told the Post that If Israel does not quickly sign the necessary contracts, it may not be able to vaccinate its children or provide citizens with booster shots against the most resistant variants of the vaccine.
“There is real competition to buy vaccines in countries around the world,” Ash warned in an interview last week. “We want to reserve our place at the top of the list and not be pushed all the way so that we can’t get them when they are needed most,” he insisted.