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Pfizer's CEO has reportedly postponed an Israel trip because he's not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and refuses to 'cut the line'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 3/6/2021 kshalvey@businessinsider.com (Kevin Shalvey)
a group of people in a city: An Israeli man receives the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a coronavirus vaccination center in Tel Aviv. Oded Balilty/AP Photo © Oded Balilty/AP Photo An Israeli man receives the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a coronavirus vaccination center in Tel Aviv. Oded Balilty/AP Photo

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and his entourage postponed a trip to Israel because they're not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, local reports said. 

On Friday, The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel reported that local TV news station Channel 12 News said the chief executive's planned Israel trip was pushed back because Bourla wasn't yet fully vaccinated. 

The reports said Bourla and some members of the team had received their first COVID-19 vaccine shots, but not their second dose.

"We remain interested in meeting the scientific leaders and other important stakeholders who were vital to the successful COVID-19 vaccination program in Israel. Any company visit will likely occur once travel conditions improve and COVID-19-related restrictions are eased," a Pfizer spokesperson told Insider on Saturday. 

Back in December, Bourla told CNBC he wouldn't "cut the line" to get his company's coronavirus vaccine, developed in partnership with Germany's BioNTech.  


Video: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on vaccine hesitancy: 'Trust science' (CNBC)

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"I'm 59 years old, in good health, I'm not working on the frontline, so my type it is not recommended to get vaccination now," he said at the time. 

Albert Bourla wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Albert Bourla. Steven Ferdman/Getty Images © Steven Ferdman/Getty Images Albert Bourla. Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

A Pfizer spokesperson reportedly told Channel 12: "We continue to be interested in visiting Israel and meeting with decision-makers, health officials and professionals that are taking part in the successful vaccine drive in Israel."

The visit may be rescheduled for later this spring, according to The Jerusalem Post.

More than 3.6 million people in Israel have been fully vaccinated, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. 

About 41.1% of Israel's population have been fully vaccinated, putting Israel far ahead of most other countries. In the US, for example, about 8.8% of people have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins. 

Last month, two Israel studies showed that Pfizer's vaccine reduced transmission in real-world situations, Reuters reported. 

Bourla's trip to Israel was scheduled to begin on March 8, about two weeks before an upcoming election, according to The Times of Israel. At least one local watchdog group had urged government officials to push the trip back, saying that it could have benefited the re-election campaign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the outlet reported.

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