In Brief: South Korea to receive vaccine doses rejected by Palestinians

Israel’s vaccination rollout. Image Credit: President Rivlin at a vaccination centre, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Israel will send South Korea some 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are due to expire shortly in a deal signed between the two nations on Tuesday.

The deal was announced by Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, who called the deal a “win-win” situation for both countries.

The deal comes weeks after the Palestinian Authority backed out of a similar agreement, saying the vaccine doses were too close to their expiration date despite Israel using the same batches to vaccinate its teens.

Under the deal with Seoul, Israel will supply doses for immediate use that are set to expire by the end of July. In return, Israel will receive the same number of doses from South Korean orders later in the year.

“We continue to protect the lives of Israeli citizens”, Bennett said in a statement.

“The vaccines are efficient and life-saving – that’s a fact. We agreed to an exchange that is a win-win situation. South Korea will receive vaccines from our existing stocks and we will be repaid from their future orders”.

The agreement was negotiated by Israel’s health ministry with the foreign ministry and the National Security Council.

Over 5.6 million people – out of Israel’s population of more than 9.3 million – have now received at least one vaccine dose. Of those, some 5.2 million have also received a second shot.