By Seun Adeuyi
Israel had received its first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Receiving the shipment on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the pandemic’s end was “in sight” and vowing to get the first jab.
“This is a great celebration for Israel,” AFP quoted Netanyahu to have said on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, as a fork-lift truck started unloading the cargo from a red and yellow DHL air freighter.
This was the first of eight million doses ordered from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer BioNTech. The shipment came ahead of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which begins tomorrow (Thursday).
The virus which has infected 348,948 Israelis, 2,932 of them fatally, according to a Wednesday update.
The PM said, “What is important to me is that Israeli citizens get vaccinated. I want to serve as an example to them and I intend to be the first to be injected with this vaccine in the state of Israel.”
However, the Pfizer vaccine has yet to receive the necessary regulatory approvals for use in Israe.
But Netanyahu said he expected it to receive clearance “in the very near” future.
The outcome of third-phase clinical trials showed that the vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing symptoms of COVID-19 and did not produce adverse side effects among thousands of volunteers.
On Tuesday, Britain started inoculating its citizens with the vaccine.
The Jewish state has also contracted to buy six million vaccine doses from US biotech firm Moderna which are expected to be delivered in 2021, giving a total of 14 million shots for its populaton of nine million.
In September, a second nationwide lockdown was imposed in Israel, when the country had one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates.