The flu vaccine in question was made and distributed by the French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi-Aventis markets the vaccine all over the world, and it was determined that all four deaths occurred in people who had been inoculated with vaccine from the same series made by the company.
The Health Ministry of Israel said Sunday that Sanofi-Aventis had been asked whether unexplained fatalities had been reported in any other country. An answer to this question was expected Monday, but if no other reports are uncovered, inoculations will be allowed to continue, according to Israeli Health Minister Ben-Yizri.
The Israeli Health Ministry has begun looking into possible sources of contamination -- but so far none have been found in the actual vaccine. At this time, 140,000 people have been inoculated. The Health Ministry has started an investigation into the medical team at the Kiryat Gat clinic where three of the four victims received their flu shots from the same nurse.
However, the head of the national center for disease monitoring in the Health Ministry -- Professor Manfred Green -- reassured a cautious public this past Sunday by stating that there may be a simple statistical explanation for the four deaths, by saying "About 100 people die every day in Israel from chronic diseases. These four individuals could be part of that group."
Yitzhak Berlovitch, deputy director of the Health Ministry, stated that no cases have ever been documented in Israel of deaths after flu inoculations. There had not yet been any autopsies performed on the four victims because "the Health Ministry has no justification for doing so," according to Berlovitch.