Israel received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday and a distributor predicted the country would have enough for about a quarter of the population by the end of the year.
A cargo plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport carrying what officials said were tens of thousands of doses of Pfizer Inc. vaccines for a trial run of transportation and storage procedures.
Israel plans to start administering the vaccines on Dec. 20, distributor Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said.
“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will get the requisite (regulatory) approvals in the coming days,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an airport ceremony, adding that he intended to be the first Israeli to be vaccinated.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech agreed last month to provide Israel with 8 million doses of the vaccine, which Britain became the first country to administer on Tuesday.
Israel has also ordered vaccines from Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc..
An Israeli cabinet member said this week that Pfizer vaccines would arrive in Israel on Thursday to be administered to the elderly and other high-risk populations, and would be followed by Moderna vaccines.
Teva Israel Chief Executive Yossi Ofek said vaccines would arrive at greater pace during the course of the month. “We are talking about a huge estimated scope of 4 million vaccine (doses) by year’s end,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.
A Teva spokeswoman said two vaccine doses would be required per person. Israel, with a population of 9 million, has reported 348,968 coronavirus cases and 2,932 deaths.