Pfizer has halted shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Israel in outrage over the country failing to transfer payment for the last 2.5 million doses it supplied to the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Senior officials at Pfizer have said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay up and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. They said that they do not understand how such a situation can occur in an organized country.
Army Radio reported that Pfizer called Israel a “banana republic.”
A shipment of 700,000 doses was expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday but was delayed until further notice.
Pfizer told the Post that the company has completed all deliveries to Israel under its initial agreement to provide its COVID-19 vaccine, signed in November 2020.
"The company is currently working with the Israeli government to update the agreement, to supply additional vaccines to the country. While this work continues, shipments may be adjusted," the company said in a statement.
The Health Ministry would not comment on the statement.
Israel paid for the first 10 million vaccines it received to manage the majority of its mass vaccination campaign. But when Israel started to run short in February, an agreement was made between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla to supply the country with the additional doses it needed.
The Post was informed that the government never paid for the last 2.5 million.
So far, Israel has spent NIS 2.6 billion on coronavirus vaccines, it was revealed last month at a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee. In general, the government does not discuss the cost of vaccines due to confidentiality agreements with the companies. It is understood that Israel paid much more per dose than any other country.
The Health Ministry had been putting pressure on the government to approve the purchase of an additional NIS 3.5 billion - more than 30 million vaccines - even before Passover and the government was set to convene last Monday. However, the meeting was postponed indefinitely due to a conflict between Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz.
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