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âLegal issues bar Israel from sharing excess vaccines with Philippinesâ
In an interview with The STAR, Harpaz said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had asked him if Israel has excess vaccines that can be shared with the Philippines.
AFP/Alain Jocard

‘Legal issues bar Israel from sharing excess vaccines with Philippines’

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Legal issues prevent Israel from sharing its excess COVID-19 vaccines with the Philippines and 19 other countries that made a similar request, Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said over the weekend.

In an interview with The STAR, Harpaz said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had asked him if Israel has excess vaccines that can be shared with the Philippines.

He said the request is not unique and that the Philippines is “very high on the list” of at least 20 countries that had approached Israel for excess vaccines, but legal issues exist.

“From what I understand from Israel, our existing agreements with the pharmaceutical companies are not allowing us to give it to a third party,” Harpaz said. “But the moment it will have a green light we will give. Definitely the Philippines would be high on the list.”

The ambassador said the agreement Israel signed does not also allow the vaccines to be brought out of the country. “That’s why we brought our diplomats to Israel. We couldn’t bring the vaccines to them, you can’t send them out,” he said.

Israel has become a world leader in COVID-19 vaccination. With a population of 9.3 million, Israel has already vaccinated 5.2 million people, more than a half of its population, with at least one dose.

The ambassador said Israel is proud to be the first country in the world that vaccinated Filipinos, including around 30,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Filipino caregivers, 400 agriculture students, diplomats and staff members at the Philippine embassy in Israel and even those with expired working permits were given free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Harpaz emphasized that free access to COVID-19 vaccine is another way of thanking Filipinos for their work in Israel and ensuring that their health and safety are ensured. – Paolo Romero

COVID-19 VACCINE
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