Covid-19: Palestinians cancel vaccine swap deal with Israel

The Palestinian Authority has cancelled a deal under which Israel was to give it at least one million Covid -19 vaccines.

The authority said the Pfizer jabs were too close to their expiry date.

Earlier, Israel said it didn’t need an ageing stock of vaccines and they were to be used to speed up the Palestinian vaccination programme.

In return, the Palestinians were to give Israel a similar number of vaccines they are expecting from the Pfizer organisation later in the year.

Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai Alkaila said they had been told the jabs would expire in July or August, but, when they arrived, the marked date was June.

“That’s not enough time to use them, so we rejected them,” she said.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said the initial delivery of about 90,000 doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement”.

“The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,” he said in the statement carried by the official Wafa news agency.

Mr Melhem added that they would instead wait for the consignment of vaccines the authority had ordered directly from Pfizer.

Vaccines have expiration dates so they are not used after their strength diminishes. However, the World Health Organisation has advised countries not to throw away any expired Covid-19 doses yet, as more research is being done into whether they could be viable for longer.