Israel defense ministry declares ‘breakthrough’ in corona antibody treatment

Defense biology research institute says it developed an antibody to COVID-19 that attacks the virus in infected patients.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s biological defense research lab has discovered what they say is a “breakthrough” in finding an antidote to the coronavirus by isolating and developing an antibody that attacks the virus, defense officials said Tuesday.

The Israel Institute for Biological Research, which normally deals with responses to chemical and biological threats against Israel, presented its findings to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who hailed the work as a “major breakthrough.”

Researchers said the development phase has been completed and that they are filing for a patent for the antibody and looking for a commercial partner to manufacture it in large quantities.

A defense ministry statement said the antibody attacks the virus and “can neutralize it within the bodies of those who are ill.”

Located in Ness Ziona, some 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of Tel Aviv, the  institute issued a joint statement with the Ministry of Defense saying the antibody is a significant step on the path to developing a treatment that directly targets the coronavirus.

“I am proud of the Biological Institute staff who have brought about this amazing breakthrough,” Bennett said during a visit to the institute on Monday. “The Jewish brain and ingenuity have brought about this amazing achievement.”

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The antibody was produced from plasma from animals and from patients who have recovered from the virus, Ynet reported. The discovery still needs to go through several stages before it will be ready as a treatment.

If continued testing proves itself, the antibody will be administered by transfusions given to patients in moderate condition where the virus has not yet caused massive damage to their body tissues.

At a press conference Monday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu cautioned that the work is ongoing and not final.

“The biological institute is indeed working on developing a vaccine for corona and several other projects. I think it is premature to say whether the efforts will achieve the desired result,” Netanyahu said.

In a separate development, the IDF said it has developed an innovative laser system that remotely checks medical metrics such as pulse, temperature, respiratory rate and eye redness and will be installing the devices at the entrance to military bases and in public places to check if people entering the area are sick.