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Israel must consider opening COVID-19 vaccine production facility

“We work around the clock in various ways to protect the health of Israeli citizens,” Bennett said. “The independent ability to produce vaccines in Israel is likely to be dramatic, especially with a view to future and future pandemics. Professional teams will investigate this and make a decision soon.”

The announcement was made in collaboration with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.

The team is led by the Treasury’s accountant and will conduct an orderly procedure and consult relevant professionals to formulate the best way to set up the facility, the announcement said.

If established, the plant will be required to produce various drugs while prioritizing vaccines, for the purpose of regular commercial activities.

At the same time, it would have the ability to adapt its activities to produce vaccines in emergencies, ideally using a variety of technologies.

The announcement added that Israel was open to establishing partnerships with other countries to bring any plan into use.

Back in March, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a visit to Israel announced an agreement between their countries to set up a research and development fund and production facility for coronavirus vaccines in Israel and Europe, but the plan has not been discussed publicly since.

“We will be ‘Vaccination Nations’ together,” Netanyahu said of the agreement at the time. “We agreed that if other nations want to join us, we will discuss this with each other and welcome others as well.”

Netanyahu has long discussed the creation of a vaccine production facility in Israel, potentially with Pfizer or Moderna, or an independent facility that would produce the Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) COVID-19 vaccine – a vaccine still in the Phase II trial.

In May, Pfizer confirmed for Jerusalem Post that the company had no plans to open such a facility or an R&D facility, as Netanyahu described in Israel.

“I have checked internally and confirmed that we have no plans for this,” said a senior executive in corporate communications. “It sounds like the conversation around it is coming from local politicians.”

However, Yeruham Mayor Tal Ohana said that even before the coronavirus, there was hope of establishing a vaccine factory in her city like the one described by Bennett. Then, in August 2020, when the IIBR launched the Phase I trial of its coronavirus vaccine, Netanyahu asked the institute to start setting up a production facility at the same time. So far, there has been little or no progress with such a plant. Although, according to Ohana, the Ministry of Defense and other potentially involved commercial partners visited the city several times.

“Today, Israel is completely dependent on external intangible property and external production capacity,” BiondVax CEO Amir Reichman told Post in a previous interview.

BiondVax, traded on Nasdaq, is a “biopharmaceutical company focusing on the development, manufacture and eventual commercialization of products for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and related diseases”, described on its website.

“With this pandemic, we were lucky because we entered into the pandemic early and secured vaccine deliveries,” Reichman said, although he noted that in a future pandemic, Israel may not be so lucky. “It is important for Israel to have both IP (intellectual property) and capacity to produce” vaccines.

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