Greece asks Israel to ‘cooperate’ on COVID-19 vaccination campaign
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [L] with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis [R].
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Israel has been running the fastest vaccination campaign in the world.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has expressed “great interest in cooperating” with Israel on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The matter was raised in a phone conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitsotakis on Friday. Netanyahu also spoke that day with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîțu.
This was Netanyahu’s first call with the Romanian prime minister, according to the PMO. The two agreed to deepen economic cooperation.
“The prime minister invited the [Romanian] prime minister to visit Israel at the first opportunity,” the office said.
Netanyahu has reported regular conversations with world leaders about Israel’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, he held a discussion with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who reportedly asked Israel and other neighboring countries for a supplementary number of coronavirus vaccines. Netanyahu told the president that the request would be considered in consultation with experts.
“Netanyahu spoke with... Anastasiades, who congratulated him on the vaccine operation; the two discussed possible bilateral cooperation on the issue,” the office said after the conversation.
Israel has been running the fastest vaccination campaign in the world, inoculating some 2.9 million people with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine since it kicked off its campaign on December 20. The country is aiming to vaccinate more than 5 million Israelis by the end of March with both doses.
Israel is able to carry out the campaign because of a deal it struck with Pfizer to receive hundreds of thousands of doses per week in exchange for sharing data that would help Pfizer better understand the efficacy of its vaccine.
Although Pfizer is contracted to provide enough doses to vaccinate the whole Israeli population, Israel also ordered some six million doses of the Moderna vaccine and another 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – more doses than needed to inoculate the rest of the country even without Pfizer. The prime minister and health minister have mentioned other deals, though none have been verified.
As such, it has been discussed that Israel could potentially help vaccinate the Palestinian Authority, as well as some neighboring and nearby countries, which could enable safer travel.
Various Israeli media reports have stated that Israel is expected to give the PA anywhere between 1,000 and up to 20,000 vaccine doses to vaccinate healthcare workers and at-risk individuals.
In the spring, as restrictions on international travel were slowly being lifted in Israel, the country considered removing the quarantine requirement on Israelis returning from five countries, including nearby Greece and Cyprus.