Israel is considering whether to donate COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, a government official with knowledge of the matter said Sunday.
Among the countries to which Israel is considering sending doses of the vaccine is one with which it does not have diplomatic relations, and it would do so in exchange for normalization, Army Radio reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he sees great importance in helping other countries vaccinate their populations when Israel is able to do so.
Israel is working with a “special friend” on distributing doses to other countries, the Israeli official said, possibly referring to the United Arab Emirates, which is also one of the world leaders in vaccinating its own population.
Though Israel ordered more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than it needs, the Health Ministry seeks to get far more Israelis vaccinated before giving any away.
“First, we have to take care of our own population,” coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash told Army Radio. “If we want to reach herd immunity, we have to aim to vaccinate 80% of the population.”
As of Friday, 49.1% of Israeli adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 33.3% have been fully vaccinated. Israel is the world leader in vaccinating its population.
Over the weekend, foreign reports said Israel spent $1.2 million on Russian Sputnik V vaccines against COVID-19 on Syria’s behalf in exchange for a young Israeli woman who crossed into Syria recently and was arrested. Israel also released two Syrian shepherds who had crossed in the other direction.
When asked about the matter on Saturday, Netanyahu said: “Not a single Israeli COVID-19 vaccine went toward that matter.”
“We brought back the young woman, and I thanked President [Vladimir] Putin for this, but I respect Russia’s request not to say anything more,” he said.