Israel nears deal for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: AstraZeneca's logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel has reached an understanding with AstraZeneca to receive about 10 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, a joint statement from the Israeli government and the drugmaker said on Friday.

Details of the agreement were being finalised, the statement said, without giving an expected signing date.

An initial supply is expected to arrive in Israel in the first half of 2021, subject to approval by regulatory authorities in Europe, the United States and Israel, the statement said.

The vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and its partner Oxford University is likely to be a two-dose course of treatment, meaning that 10 million doses would cover more than half of Israel’s population of 9 million.

“This is a historic agreement led by the company’s local representation that will enable access to the vaccine for millions of Israeli citizens,” said Ohad Goldberg, chief executive of AstraZeneca Israel.

Data published on Thursday showed AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate produced a strong immune response in older adults. Researchers are expected to release late-stage trial results by Christmas.

Israel has cast a wide net in its quest for access to a coronavirus vaccine. It has signed supply agreements with Pfizer and Moderna, and is in talks with Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine.

Israel is also developing its own vaccine that, if successful, could be ready for sale by the end of the summer.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by David Clarke