On Sunday, it was reported that officials of the Israeli Health Ministry had reached out to Pfizer and requested information regarding the drug-maker’s new experimental antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID-19. The US pharma giant has touted the drug as highly effective in preventing death and hospitalization from the coronavirus, so the Health Ministry requested the company to provide some details about it. Already, Pfizer has disclosed that 90 other governments are actively talking to the pharma firm about the pill. However, it was quoted that senior officials of the Health Ministry are concerned that their vaccination campaign and booster shot efforts could be undermined by the new pill.
This report came hours after Naftali Bennett, the Israeli Prime Minister, said that they were looking into buying the new pill from Pfizer. At the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, the premier had said that there could be good news as coronavirus could be treated with medication. He also added that he had asked the health officials to look into the matter with depth over the weekend when it comes to Israel acquiring the said medication. He stated that if the drug was to receive approval, then it would become another major tool for managing pandemic, especially when combined with tests and the vaccines.
The successful coronavirus campaign carried out in Israel was largely because the country had managed to clinch the first contracts with Pfizer for a massive supply of the doses. This was done by Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been prime minister back then, and he had made a number of phone calls to Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer. A top official of the Health Ministry said on Sunday that even though the new pill by Pfizer does sound promising, it was essential to check its efficacy, costs and side effects.
Nachman Ash, the Director General of the Israeli Health Ministry said that they would make a decision after Pfizer publishes the full results of the trial. The US pharma company had announced on Friday that its pill had proven to be 90% effective in cutting down rates of death and hospitalization amongst COVID patients, as companies race to develop easy-to-use medication for the disease. Currently an IV or injection is required for all treatments that exist for the coronavirus. Merck has already developed a COVID-19 pill, which is currently under FDA’s review, while the United Kingdom has already approved it.
In recent weeks, there has been a drop in the morbidity in Israel, with deaths and infections falling from peaks that were recorded when the fourth wave of the coronavirus had reached its height. The total number of active cases in the country stands at 5,984, as per the figures provided by the Health Ministry on Sunday. These had reached almost 90,000 back in September at the peak of the wave. On Saturday, 194 new cases were recorded in the country, which is a fall from the 5,000 to 6,000 cases that were seen almost two months ago.