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Israel orders Pfizer's new COVID-19 pill

A view of Mishan Efal nursing home in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 13, 2021. Paramedics vaccinate elderly people and personnel in the Mishan Efal nursing home [Nir Keidar / Anadolu Agency]
A view of Mishan Efal nursing home in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 13, 2021. Paramedics vaccinate elderly people and personnel in the Mishan Efal nursing home [Nir Keidar / Anadolu Agency]

Israel has ordered 100,000 units of Pfizer Inc's anti-viral COVID 19 pill Paxlovid for people aged 12 and older at risk of severe illness, an Israeli official said on Saturday, reported Israeli media and Reuters.

Channel 12 TV said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett agreed the deal in a phone conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. There was no immediate confirmation from the company.

The first oral and at home treatment for COVID-19, Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness, according to data from Pfizer's clinical trial. Recent lab data suggests the drug retains effectiveness against the Omicron variant, it said.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are the main suppliers in the swift Israeli vaccination rollout that began in December 2020.

Read: Israel to impose travel ban on Britain and Denmark over coronavirus concerns

Last week, Israel started to ban its citizens from travelling to Britain and Denmark due to concerns over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Israel had already banned the entry of foreigners to try to stem COVID-19 infection rates and has imposed three-to-seven days' self-isolation orders for Israelis returning from abroad.

Nearly 50 countries, mainly in Africa, have been declared "red" by Israel since the discovery of the highly contagious variant.

According to Alroy-Preis, Omicron is more contagious than past variants and is better able to evade vaccines. However, she also noted it has caused less fatalities and severe morbidity than previous COVID-19 outbreaks.

Read: 25% of households in Israel live in poverty

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