Israel has committed to send Pfizer statistical data and details in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had secured a deal with the pharma company which will enable all citizens of Israel aged over 16 to receive the vaccine by the end of March.
Pfizer will send Israel a weekly consignment of between 100,000 and 500,000 vaccine doses, with more than a million doses set to be provided by the middle of March.
In return, Pfizer will receive anonymised data about consequences of the inoculations, side effects, efficacy, and the amount of time it takes to develop antibodies, according to different types of population, age, gender, pre-existing conditions, and other factors.
Israel’s Ministry of Health has also secured six million doses of the Moderna COVID vaccine, with the first delivery arriving this month.
WHY IT MATTERS
Results from this huge research will serve to set vaccination strategies in the rest of the world and assist pharmaceutical companies in continuing R&D for coronavirus vaccinations and other treatments. Data will also be shared with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Meanwhile, Bahrain has become the first country to allow vaccination appointments via a smartphone app. The country has the second highest vaccination rate in the world after Israel with a reported rate of 3.49 vaccinations doses per 100 individuals.
ON THE RECORD
Netanyahu said: “As part of the agreement with Pfizer, we decided that Israel will be a global model state for the rapid vaccination of an entire country. To this end, we have brought forward the arrival of the vaccines and also increased their number. Israel will share with Pfizer and with the entire world the statistical data that will help develop strategies for defeating the coronavirus.”
A Pfizer spokesperson said: “This project will gather critical real-world epidemiological information that will enable real time monitoring of the evolution of the epidemic in Israel and evaluate the potential of a vaccination program using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to trigger indirect protection and interrupt viral transmission.
“While this project is conducted in Israel, the insights gained will be applicable around the world and we anticipate will allow Governments to maximise the public health impact of their vaccination campaigns, determine potential immunization rates needed to interrupt transmission and ultimately help bring an end to the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Alon Kaufman, CEO and cofounder of privacy-enhanced technology firm, Duality Technologies said: “The ability to connect between vaccination outcomes and longitudinal patient records is crucial for researchers seeking to understand the vaccine’s long-term impact and its correlation with pre-existing conditions and other health parameters. And while reports suggest that Israel is only sharing statistical data, there is understandable concern about the effects of such data sharing on individual citizens’ privacy.”