Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid
Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid Pfizer/Handout via REUTERS

Israel has signed an agreement to purchase tens of thousands of doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment pill, Channel 12 News reported on Saturday night.

According to the report, the agreement was reached following intensive negotiations last week between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. The pills are expected to arrive in the coming days and no payment will be required for their use.

Pfizer says the drug, which is administered in a pill called Paxlovid, reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus by up to 90%. The goal in Israel is to slow the rate of hospitalizations in the current wave.

The details of the agreement between Israel and Pfizer will remain secret for the most part, like the other procurement agreements signed to date with Pfizer.

Sources close to Prime Minister Bennett said, "The pills are not a substitute for a vaccine. The global competition for them is tough and they are very expensive. The drugs are a second layer of protection, not a first layer."

This past week, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment pill.

The FDA cleared the pill for patients 12 and up with mild to moderate COVID who are most likely to end up hospitalized or not survive. The agency said it should be prescribed as soon as possible after diagnosis and within five days of symptom onset.