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Vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination centre in the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. Photo: Jack Guex/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and South Korea have agreed to exchange 700,000 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Israeli Prime Minister's office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The deal marks the world's first COVID-19 vaccine swap, and could prove to be a template for other governments, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Under the agreement, Israel will immediately ship 700,000 Pfizer doses to South Korea where they will be inspected by officials and then distributed by the end of July, the Israeli government said in a press release.

  • South Korea will then ship 700,000 already-ordered Pfizer doses to Israel in September or October.
  • Israel's shipment of doses is expected to arrive in South Korea on Wednesday, per the Journal.
  • Israel has made other attempts to swap its current batch of Pfizer doses, which is set to expire at the end of the month. A previous deal with the Palestinian Authority fell through over concerns regarding the nearing expiration date.

The big picture: After a successful start to its vaccination rollout, more than 55% of Israelis are fully vaccinated. But demand has slowed in recent weeks, per the Journal.

  • Meanwhile, South Korea has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases but is struggling to secure more doses of the vaccine, Reuters reports.
  • The new deal will enable South Korea to ramp up its vaccination campaign and inoculate workers in sectors that have high contact with other people, per Reuters.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 12, 2021 - World

Kim Jong-un blames U.S. for tensions as Pyongyang showcases weaponry

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and military members stand next to what appears to be a hypersonic missile at the National Defense Development Exhibition "Self-Defense 2021," according to the Korean Central News Agency. Photo: KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared while attending a weapons exhibition that the country had "invincible" defense capabilities as he accused the U.S. of being the source of regional tensions, state media reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: Kim said in a speech at Monday's event that the country was strengthening its weapons arsenal but didn't want a war, per the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Oct 11, 2021 - World

COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like?

Lining up for a nightclub in Copenhagen. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

After 18 months of wondering when this will all be over, it's increasingly clear that there will never be a moment of victory for vaccines against variants or humanity against the virus.

The big picture: Case counts remain stubbornly high even where just about everyone who wants a shot has had one. Countries like Australia and New Zealand that had sought to keep out COVID-19 altogether are now learning to live with the virus.

Oct 13, 2021 - Sports

NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated against COVID-19

A vaccinated section of fans at a New York Islanders game. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL announced in a press release on Wednesday that all but four players are vaccinated.

The big picture: With only four out of more than 700 players unvaccinated this season, the NHL has a 99% vaccination rate, according to NPR.