Netanyahu: On the verge of signing for more doses of Moderna vaccine

Knesset agrees to open zoos, safaris as new daily cases hit nearly 820

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removing his mask (photo credit: ELI DASSA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removing his mask
(photo credit: ELI DASSA)
“This is the beginning of the end of the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in a video message to the public.
He was referring to the progress being made toward receiving a coronavirus vaccine in Israel.
On Wednesday, Pfizer Inc. announced that final results from its Phase III trial of the COVID-19 vaccine show it is 95% effective. The company said it would now apply for emergency US authorization.
Israel is expected to receive eight million doses of the vaccine beginning in January – enough to vaccinate four million citizens.
“Good news on the coronavirus front,” the prime minister added. “Yesterday, I spoke with Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, and with Dr. Tal Zaks, a senior member of the company, about signing on an increase in the number of doses allocated to Israeli citizens. I believe we are on the verge of signing – this is great news.”
At the same time, Israel is working to open up more in the shadow of the virus.
On Wednesday, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer announced that several members of its medical team were trained to operate Sofia rapid testing devices that will be positioned at four key stations en route to Eilat and the Dead Sea.
The testing centers, which were set up by the Home Front Command’s Alon Headquarters and the Defense Ministry in collaboration with the Eilat municipality and the Tamar Regional Council, will be manned by around 30 staff members from Sheba. The medical staff traveled to the area on Wednesday evening immediately following their training. The centers will open Thursday.
The FDA-approved Sofia coronavirus test is performed only using respiratory specimens collected from individuals who are suspected of having coronavirus. This innovative technology provides results within 15 minutes.
Some two to five Sofia devices will be activated at every station.
Also, on Wednesday, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved amendments to the regulations to open commerce. Zoos and safaris will open. Also, the Knesset approved that restaurants, tourist attractions and retail will be able to open in Eilat and the Dead Sea.
At the same time, the Health Ministry announced that its health professionals had reexamined the policy of allowing only four people to shop in a store of any size at a time. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein recommended to the coronavirus cabinet a resolution to increase the number of people in street shops and stores in strip malls to one shopper for every seven square meters and up to 10 people, which was later approved.
Finally, it does not appear that Israelis can expect any new restrictions in the coming days, as the members of the task force charged with presenting plans to reduce infection to the prime minister by Thursday said that they do not have any recommendations.
Three ideas had come up in the previous days: A night curfew, a weekend closure, or a closure before which citizens would be given advanced notice. Health officials said that none of those options would have the needed impact.
On Tuesday, there were 819 people diagnosed with the virus, and another 426 between midnight and press time on Wednesday. The number of serious patients rose to 308. The death toll stood at 2,738.