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An Israeli scientist conducts coronavirus tests in Tel Aviv. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Israel's foreign intelligence service, Mossad, stepped in to help secure much-needed coronavirus tests from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, only to find they were the wrong ones, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: Israel has serious shortages of medical equipment needed to fight the outbreak, leaving Israeli embassies and even intelligence agencies scrambling to get their hands on everything from medical masks to test kits.

The backstory: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested Mossad's help, hoping the intelligence service could use its web of secret contacts around the world to find relevant medical supplies.

  • Mossad starting approaching Arab and Muslim countries that were better supplied, but with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.

How it happened: Mossad bought 100,000 tests, which arrived in Israel last night. The agency began to brief reporters on its achievement, but the headlines turned out to be less exciting than they'd hoped.

  • Israel's Ministry of Health wanted swabs and test tubes for collecting samples from patients, Israeli officials say, while Mossad bought kits for a different part of the test that aren't currently needed. The officials blamed "miscommunication."
  • Netanyahu's office went into damage-control mode, saying the supplies would be used for other purposes and asking the Ministry of Health to issue statements praising Mossad.

Go deeper

J&J and Merck to partner for COVID vaccine production to boost supply

Empty vials that contained a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help Johnson & Johnson manufacture its newly authorized coronavirus vaccine to boost supply, a senior administration official tells Axios.

The big picture: The development has the potential to vastly increase supply, possibly doubling what the J&J could make on its own, the official said. The company has run into challenges while trying to expand its vaccine production to a global scale.

Casinos throw cash at sports betting media

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Casinos are investing millions on sports betting content to lure bettors to their online and in-person sportsbooks.

Why it matters: It’s a mini gold rush for some sports media companies that were struggling in the pandemic.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
12 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels

Newly released data show that global CO2 emissions had returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year and surpassed them in some major economies.

Why it matters: The International Energy Agency warned that clean energy efforts are falling short.