Pfizer boss praises Netanyahu’s ‘obsessive’ drive to secure vaccine deal

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Pfizer boss praises Netanyahu’s ‘obsessive’ drive to secure vaccine deal

Albert Bourla said Bibi 'convinced me that Israel is the place with the right conditions' after the prime minister called him 30 times

Israeli PM with a delivery of Covid vaccines
Israeli PM with a delivery of Covid vaccines

The boss of coronvirus vacccine producer Pfizer has praised Benjamin Netanyahu’s “obsessive” efforts to secure a vaccine deal for Israel and predicted that children younger than 16 will soon begin receiving his company’s vaccine”.

Speaking with Israel’s Channel 12 News, Albert Bourla  said: “I was talking with several heads of state. I spoke with your prime minister, he convinced me that Israel is the place with the right conditions. I was impressed, frankly, with the obsession of your prime minister. He called me 30 times.”

He also cited Israel’s “extraordinary healthcare system… very high degree of economic data” and experience in dealing with crises.

Bourla believes it is “a question of weeks” until children aged 12 to 16 could start receiving the vaccine, but stressed it depended on approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. He also said he believed elementary school students would be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by the end of the year.

Pfizer recently enrolled more than 2,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 for clinical trials and hopes to have results within a few months. The vaccine currently has emergency approval for use in people 16 and older.

Bourla’s comments came after the director-general of the Health Ministry estimated Israel will begin vaccinating children 12 and up against the coronavirus “around May”. 

Chezy Levy said the decision will depend on clinical trials being conducted by vaccine makers, which he hopes “will be over around the end of spring, or beginning of summer”.

Last week a top Israeli health official said Israel has given some 600 children between the ages of 12 and 16 in at-risk groups the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and has seen no significant side effects from the shot.

The Israeli children, who have been approved by medical authorities for vaccination, had known risk factors including obesity, diabetes, severe lung and heart disease, immunosuppression disorders and cancer, according to a report last month.

Infection among children and school reopenings was a central concern during Israel’s third-wave virus outbreak.

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