By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
Jerusalem, Israel — January 1, 2022 … The first shipment of the Pfizer drug for Covid-19 has arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett led the negotiations with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, together with Israel Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Health Ministry personnel.
The drug known as Paxlovid, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week for Covid patients age 12 and over who are vulnerable to becoming severely ill because of their age or prior medical conditions.
Israel on Thursday approved a fourth dose of Covid vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, moving ahead of much of the world to try to protect its most vulnerable against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
The decision by health officials came more than a week after an advisory panel of Israeli experts recommended a fourth dose for people with weak immune systems, as well as for others at high risk, including those aged 60 and over and health care workers.
At least half the new daily cases in Israel are now believed to be from the Omicron variant, and experts say that variant is likely to surpass Delta as the dominant variant in the country within a couple of weeks.
Over 4 million Israelis have received a booster shot, out of a total population of 9 million, but about a million eligible Israelis have not. In November, Israel became one of the first countries after the United States to approve Covid vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11.
“The Pfizer drug that is arriving in Israel today, among the first countries in the world, is an important addition to the arsenal in the war against the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Bennett.
“At an Israel Cabinet meeting several weeks ago, I instructed that the procurement of the drug be advanced and thanks to our effort and determination, this is happening.
Just as we were global pioneers in giving the third and fourth doses of the vaccine, we are now leading as well in giving the drug to the citizens of Israel.
Thanks to our rapid action, these life saving drugs have arrived in Israel quickly and will assist us in getting past the peak of the coming Omicron wave.
I would like to thank my friends, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and the personnel of his ministry, El Al for bringing the shipment and everyone who took part in the effort.
We are acting correctly, in an orderly and efficient manner, in a combined effort – of tests, vaccinations and now the drug. Together, we will overcome the Covid Omicron wave.”