Israel is currently considering the feasibility of establishing their own domestic vaccine manufacturing facility. On Monday, they called for proposals on how to go about accomplishing this goal. As of now, Israel is dependent on vaccines that are imported into the country. On Monday, the Finance Ministry released an Approach to Market (AtM) in which it explained that it was of the utmost importance to have the ability of developing, manufacturing and licensing vaccines because it would help in confronting familiar as well as unfamiliar pathogens that could severely harm the economy and public health of the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated Israel’s desire to look for other alternatives that could prove to be less expensive, as this would ensure a steady supply of vaccines for dealing with this pandemic, along with any others in the future. While no official numbers were disclosed, it is understood that the millions of Pfizer vaccines that Israel had purchased for inoculating the majority of its population had a premium price tag attached to them. Furthermore, in order to obtain the vaccines, Israel also had to agree to share infection and inoculation data with the American pharmaceutical company.
The ministry disseminated the AtM on behalf of the National Economic Council, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense, Economic and Health ministries. This was done in accordance with a decision that was taken on July 11th by the government, shortly after the then-new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had taken office. Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister, had also called for establishing a vaccine facility in the country during his tenure, but there hadn’t been any progress in regard to this case. He had also talked about a joint effort with Pfizer for establishing a vaccine research and development facility in Israel.
However, Pfizer had later disclosed that this wasn’t something they had considered practically and it was just ‘political speak’. The AtM states that partners are looking for information from the public to examine a possible framework for practically and commercially setting up a vaccine manufacturing facility in the country. This facility would have the ability to manufacture vaccines independently on a routine basis and would also be able to manufacture any vaccines for potential future pandemics. They are hoping that when the process concludes, they will have a strong understanding of the most appropriate model from various alternatives, along with data about possible obstacles and how they can be overcome.
February 17th, 2022 is the due date of the responses. The location of the facility hasn’t been decided as yet. Tal Ohana, Yeroham’s head of the local council has been trying to set up a vaccine production facility in the city even before the beginning of the pandemic. As a matter of fact, she went as far as had discussions with the Institute for Biological Research in Israel regarding the matter, if their vaccine receives approval. However, now she has said that the site cannot be considered because they lack the technology, so she is not very optimistic about it.