There was something to be doubtful about. On Friday June 18, Israel announced a vaccine deal with the Palestinian Authority. One million doses of Pfizer vaccine nearing expiration soon to be delivered to Palestinians against one million doses fresh from the factory for Israel “In September / October 2021 on behalf of what was intended for the Palestinian Authority”, in the words of the prime minister’s office and the Israeli defense and health ministries in a joint statement: “This deal was made possible after realizing that the stockpile of vaccines Israel has in its possession meets its current needs. “

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It was shattered in the hours that followed. The Palestinian Authority received a first batch of 90,000 vaccines during the day. «It was discovered that it did not comply with the characteristics provided for by the agreement ”Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said in the evening.

Expiration date uncertain

The expiry date of the said vaccines has not been specified, but images of Pfizer doses dated “June 2021” were shared on social networks. “To my knowledge, there are no studies on the quality of vaccines after the expiration date. But they are composed of fairly pure things and there are no enzymes: there is no reason for them to degrade, except for variations in storage temperatures ”, explains Morgane Bomsel, virologist and researcher at CNRS and Institut Cochin. « Thawed and undiluted it can be stored at refrigerator temperatures between2 ° C and 8 ° C for one month (31 days) “, says Pfizer.

The Palestinian Authority has assured to wait for the delivery of the vaccines that were initially promised by the American laboratory.

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The agreement was to be used to “Accelerate the vaccination campaign and achieve collective immunity”. Between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the gap is abysmal. The Hebrew state has conducted one of the most advanced vaccine campaigns in the world with 55% of the population fully vaccinated. The country only has about twenty cases a day.

On the Palestinian side, on the other hand, only 260,000 people are fully vaccinated for a population of 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 2 million in the Gaza Strip. “These figures include the more than 100,000 Palestinian workers vaccinated by Israel since March, because they come into regular contact with Israelis at their workplaces (…) (as well as) the approximately 52,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been vaccinated ‘, details the magazine Times of Israel.

A stammering vaccination campaign

This week, they were nearly 430,000 to receive a first dose thanks to international aid. The West Bank has already received doses from China, Russia, the Covax international equitable vaccine redistribution program (mainly from AstraZeneca) as well as a small nest egg from Israel (5,000 doses of Moderna and 200 doses of Pfizer for Palestinian medical personnel). Of the 111,000 doses distributed in the Gaza Strip – under Hamas control – 50,000 come from Covax, 60,000 from the United Arab Emirates and 1,000 from the Palestinian Authority.

A new representative of the Pope in Israel

With its advanced one-million-dose Pfizer, Israel’s newest government was keen to score points. “It is a way of reinforcing the idea of ​​a collaboration with the Palestinian Authority, and for the latter, it allows to get back in the saddle as a privileged interlocutor in charge of the life of the Palestinians” after having almost disappeared from radar during the war in May, commented before the cancellation of the agreement Stéphanie Laithier, historian in charge of research at the Practical School of Higher Studies (EPHE) and specialist in Israel. On Twitter, the new Israeli Minister of HealthNitzan Horowitz said he was ready for a “Cooperation between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in other fields”.

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