Israel closes deal for millions more Pfizer vaccines and adds Moderna

A+medical+worker+prepares+a+coronavirus+vaccine+at+Barzilai+Medical+Center+in+the+southern+Israeli+city+of+Ashkelon%2C+Dec.+20%2C+2020.+%28Gil+Cohen-Magen%2FAFP+via+Getty+Images%29%0A

AFP via Getty Images

A medical worker prepares a coronavirus vaccine at Barzilai Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, Dec. 20, 2020. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images)

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Israel locked down new deals to purchase more Pfizer vaccines and added Moderna doses to its arsenal on Monday, just two weeks after Pfizer had cut off the nation’s vaccine supply over its failure to pay.

The country has the highest vaccination rate in the world at over 50% of civilians, but still needs a final push to reach the threshold of herd immunity, which experts say comes at a vaccination rate of around 70%.

The Hebrew media reported that Israel, a country of some 9 million people, arranged to buy 18 million more doses from Pfizer and Moderna, according to The Times of Israel.

Pfizer had halted a shipment of nearly a million doses that was supposed to arrive on April 4. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that political infighting over budgetary concerns led to the delay in payment.

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“There were some obstacles in Israel that we had to overcome, and we found a way to overcome them,” Netanyahu told reporters Monday.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week that people will likely need a COVID-19 booster vaccine shot within a year of their initial vaccination. He has noted that “governments around the world are working on longer-term pandemic preparedness,” with Israel leading the way on that front.