Israel signs agreement with Moderna for potential COVID-19 vaccine

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has signed an agreement with Moderna Inc for the future purchase of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech firm last week confirmed plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its much-anticipated vaccine in July as the company enters the final stages of testing.

It is one of several vaccines being tested around the world as drugmakers race to combat the pandemic. There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.

“Israel has signed with the company Moderna an arrangement that will allow us to buy vaccines,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.

“The company is advancing its development, they claim they can achieve it by the middle of next year, we hope that they succeed,” he said.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Netanyahu added that Israel would continue its own efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine through the Israel Institute for Biological Research.

Israel - with a population of 9 million - has reported 19,783 novel coronavirus cases and 303 deaths. It has seen a spike in new infections since reopening schools, restaurants and many businesses last month.

Other countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have signed supply deals with British drugmaker AstraZeneca for its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen, Editing by Rami Ayyub and Emelia Sithole-Matarise