What exactly is Israel's Health Ministry sharing with Pfizer?

In the past month, Israel has established itself as a vaccination powerhouse.

A scientist conducts research on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the laboratories of RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics in San Diego, California, U.S., March 17, 2020.  (photo credit: BING GUAN/REUTERS)
A scientist conducts research on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the laboratories of RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics in San Diego, California, U.S., March 17, 2020.
(photo credit: BING GUAN/REUTERS)
The agreement between Israel and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer was published by the Health Ministry on Sunday.
In the past month, Israel has established itself as a vaccination powerhouse. The government persuaded Pfizer, in exchange for medical data, to drastically increase the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses compared to what they had originally agreed upon. Some people expressed fear that the extra doses would come at the expense of citizens’ privacy.
While some parts of the agreement were blackened out, the document clearly indicates that “no Identifiable Health Information shall be shared between the parties.”
According to the document, the Health Ministry commits to communicate to Pfizer the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, severe/critical cases, ventilated patients and symptomatic cases per week, together with the number of vaccinations performed. In both cases, the data is also going to be broken down according to demographic factors, such as age groups.
Much of this information is already shared publicly by the ministry on a daily basis.
About two million Israelis have received at least their first shot, making the country the best in the world by far in terms of vaccination per capita and putting it in the unique position to serve as a “test state,” with the ability to provide key information to the rest of the world.
As stated in the agreement, the goal of the cooperation is “to measure and analyze epidemiological data arising from the [Pfizer] Product rollout, to determine whether herd immunity is achieved after reaching a certain percentage of vaccination coverage in Israel.”
While no specific number of doses is included in the document, at least in the visible parts, Pfizer does commit to supply enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible.
According to what was reported by Israeli media last week, the company is set to provide between 400,000 and 700,000 doses every week.
The agreement further states: “The data generated by the Project is aimed at helping end the global COVID-19 pandemic for the benefit of all patients inside and outside of Israel... [and it] “will be based on the current medical literature and guidelines adopted by inspected medical bodies.”
Moreover, under the agreement, no information can be disclosed to third parties, unless specifically approved by the disclosing party. The ministry will remain the owner of the data shared with Pfizer.
Pfizer will share with the Health Ministry its expertise in fields such as respiratory diseases, vaccines and epidemiology. The two bodies will also report jointly in submission for publication to peer-reviewed scientific journals.
On Friday, the ministry announced that the general population over the age of 45 is now eligible for inoculation.
"While this project is conducted in Israel, the insights gained will be applicable around the world and we anticipate will allow governments to maximize the public health impact of their vaccination campaigns," BioNTech said on Monday in a statement.
This includes determining potential immunization rates needed to stop the virus from spreading, it said.
The goal, BioNTech said, was "to monitor the evolution of the epidemic over time and at different vaccination rates".
"This will help us understand whether a potential decrease in cases and deaths can be attributed solely to direct vaccine protection or to both direct and indirect (or 'herd') protection," it said.
Asked whether Pfizer was offering anything in return for the Israeli health data, a Pfizer spokeswoman in Israel said: "Pfizer does not offer anything in return. The agreement is public so you can read it. Besides that, we do not have any other comments."


Tags Pfizer