How Israel's demographic diversity won it Pfizer's COVID vaccine

Netanyahu convinced Pfizer's CEO to use Israel as test case for COVID vaccine, citing its large immigrant population.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine

Israel’s demographic diversity, including the country’s large immigrant population, were key in Pfizer’s decision to ship a large quantity of COVID vaccines to the country early on, according to a report by Israel Hayom Wednesday.

In a series of some 30 phone calls between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla this January, Netanyahu convinced Bourla that Israel would be the ideal choice of a “test nation” for the newly developed COVID vaccine.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who has recently completed his tenure as ambassador, was a part of many of the discussions between Netanyahu and Bourla, and also spoke with Bourla separately on numerous occasions, working to convince the Pfizer CEO to choose Israel over other countries.

While Bourla had initially considered using Estonia as a test case, Netanyahu and Dermer won him over with their arguments, citing Israel’s health data collection network, with information on the entire population going back three decades.

Bourla in part chose Israel because of its size – being a small country – but not too small – to serve as a “national laboratory” for the vaccine.

In addition, Netanyahu and Dermer noted the distribution of clinics in Israel would make it easier to carry out a rapid mass vaccination program.

But it was Israel’s demographic variety which ultimately won Bourla over, and led him to choose Israel over Estonia. Netanyahu told the Pfizer CEO that Israel “has people from over 100 different countries around the world.”

“In the case of any negative reactions to the vaccine, there will be lots of precise medical information about the correlation, whatever there may be, between background and the effect of the vaccine.”