“There may be good news regarding a drug to treat corona,” Bennett said. “Already during the weekend, I asked our system to study the issue of the new drug in depth, and to examine procurement for the State of Israel.”“If the drug is approved for use it will be another significant tool in fighting the pandemic, along with vaccines for everyone and test accessibility, for everyone, all the time,” he added.

On Friday, Pfizer – which also manufactures the vaccine used in Israel – announced that its antiviral pill Paxlovid cut by 89% the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease in their clinical trial.

The company added that it plans to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration before November 25.

Empty Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine vials for children aged 5-11 are seen in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, US, November 6, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/HANNAH BEIER)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the company is in talks with around 90 countries to provide the pill.

On Sunday morning, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said that Israel had not yet reached an agreement with the company but he hoped it would do so in the next few days.

“I think that the good relations with Pfizer will help us get the drug fast,” he noted during an interview on 103FM radio.

Commenting on the results of the clinical trial about the medication, Ash said that “it sounds promising, but I need to also learn about the drug’s success data and costs.”

Also on Sunday, the ministry announced that the Pandemic Response Team and the advisory committee on vaccine will meet again on Wednesday to discuss and vote on the approval of vaccination for children ages 5-11.

In contrast with the previous session on Thursday which was live-streamed, this time the meeting will not be open to the public.

Ash said that the choice of holding the second part of the conversation behind closed doors has been caused by the high level of verbal violence that the discourse around the topic of vaccines has arisen and that the experts said that they would feel more at liberty to express themselves freely if the session was not open.

In the meantime, morbidity in Israel continued to decline.

Only 194 new cases were recorded on Saturday. While the number of tests processed during the weekend is consistently lower than on weekdays – around 30,000 compared to 80,000 – the figure marks the lowest since July.

In addition, as of Sunday Israel had 178 serious patients. A month earlier they were 460.