The Palestinian Authroity (PA) cancelled the agreement and accused Israel of being untruthful over the vaccines real expiration dates.
The Palestinian Authority’s Health Minister Dr. Mai Alkaila announced on Friday the cancellation of a vaccine agreement with Israel, after doses were discovered to be expired by the end of this month.
Palestinians were set to receive about one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Israeli government, for distribution in the West Bank and Gaza, Reuters reports. The deal would require the Palestinians to reciprocate the same amount of doses back to Israel later this year.
The vaccines from Israel were known to “expire soon,” as the Israeli PM described the shipment. However, Palestinian officials claim the actual date of the vaccine expirations were falsified by the Israeli government.
Dr. Alkaila stated the Palestinian Health Ministry was told the vaccines would be viable to use until about July or August. This would have given health officials “lots of time for use,” according to Dr. Alkaila.
As soon as Palestinian officials received the first shipment of 90,000 doses, however, the reality of the situation was much different from what was agreed. The vaccines shipped were due to expire by the end of June, less than two weeks away. This would give almost no time for the PA to distribute vaccines thoroughly to the 4.7 million people living in the territory.
The Israeli government has yet to make an official statement about the situation, but many have criticized Israel for neglecting palestinians during the pandemic, especially as the country launched one of the most efficient vaccine rollout programs in the world. According to Our World in Data, Israel currently has nearly 57% of its population fully vaccinated.
This is a remarkable achievement, and is a substantially higher percentage than other countries like the US and France have managed to achieve. On the other hand, Palestine currently has a mere 7.3% of its total population fully vaccinated, nowhere near the requirement set by the WHO for herd immunity to take effect.
Palestine has to date administered 685,750 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to COVID data tracking sources. Most of these have come via the global COVAX vaccine sharing initiative. It is unclear whether Palestine will be able to secure another shipment of the same size through the program, but with 40% of Palestinians indicating they were ready to be vaccinated as soon as possible, the Palestinian Authority will have to look elsewhere for help with battling the pandemic.