A vaccine production plant in Israel, a green passport, and self-tests for Covid-19: Israel is about to embark on a program to set up a vaccines production plant in Israel in cooperation with the governments of Denmark and Austria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who led the move together with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, held working meetings on the matter with her and with Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz during the visit of the two leaders to Israel.
Sources close to the talks told “Globes” that the decision to work with Israel on setting up a vaccine production line was made after the European Union stumbled in its vaccination program, and Denmark decided to try to achieve “vaccine independence”, in line with Netanyahu’s desire to bring about national security in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and to break the dependence on other countries and on external production plants, in cooperation with the private sector.
Here, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) Danish CEO Kare Schultz enters the picture as a factor in the talks between Netanyahu and Frederiksen. “Globes” has learned that Teva could be the private sector entity that will produce vaccines for Israel, Denmark, and perhaps other countries as well. While the Danish media have mentioned Schultz as someone with influence on the talks between Israel and Denmark, sources in Israel say that the intention is to hold a tender with the participation of companies and countries that wish to share in setting up the plant.
At the meetings held today between Netanyahu and the European leaders, the possibility was discussed that the proposed plant would not only produce vaccines against the coronavirus, but would later produce vaccines against other diseases, as required. While the intention at the moment is to set up a plant in Israel, Frederiksen, unlike Kurz, is interested in setting up a plant on the same terms in her own country too. The advantage of a plant in Israel, sources familiar with the matter say, is that here, unlike in Denmark, the EU cannot affect decisions on production and distribution.
At today’s talks the possibility was discussed of setting up a joint vaccine database to aid research on the efficacy of vaccinations. Another possible area of cooperation discussed was the green passport certifying that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19 or has had the disease and recovered. At their request, Netanyahu visited a fitness club with the two leaders. The club had reopened in accordance with the green passport rules, and they will examine the possibility of replicating this model in their own countries. The idea of an international green passport was also discussed, allowing people who have been vaccinated to obtain automatic recognition of their status in other countries.
Danish, Austrian leaders snub EU with Israel vaccine visit
A further point of discussion that could affect the education system if there is a further wave of the coronavirus pandemic was self-testing, an idea put forward by the Austrians. Israeli sources told “Globes” that for as long as it remains impossible to vaccinate young children, Israel is examining the possibility of a kind of home self-test that will enable educational institutions to function with a minimum of risk.
At the staff meetings that took place today between the professional representatives of the three countries, Israel was represented by Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein, head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat, acting Ministry of Finance director general Tzahi Braverman, and Ministry of Health director general Hezi Levi. Braverman heads an inter-ministerial team that over the past year has been examining the possibility of setting up a vaccine production plant in Israel.
The vaccination summit held in Israel followed talks in the forum of leading countries in the fight against Covid-19 held under the auspices of the Austrian Chancellor since last April. The main aim of the meeting was described by Israel as “preparation for future pandemics and for developing vaccines within a short time for all countries.”
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 4, 2021
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