Israel partners with NRx to produce homegrown coronavirus vaccine

“I anticipate that with this agreement, we will be able to complete the development of the vaccine and enable Israel to produce vaccines independently,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

U.S.-based NRx Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that it has signed an agreement with the Israeli government to license exclusive worldwide development, manufacturing, and marketing rights to the BriLife coronavirus vaccine developed by the government-run Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR).

“I anticipate that with this agreement, we will be able to complete the development of the vaccine and enable Israel to produce vaccines independently because as we have seen recently, the coronavirus is not going anywhere,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement.

“We at NRx are honored to have been selected by the Government of Israel to carry forward this life-saving mission,” said NRx Director Chaim Hurvitz.

According to the agreement, NRx has committed to supplying all required doses of the vaccine for the population of Israel. IIBR will provide technical assistance, while receiving royalty and milestone payments for its intellectual property.

According to IIBR, the BriLife vaccine uses a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) which has been genetically modified to posses the spike protein of the coronavirus.

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Because it is a self-propagating, live-virus vaccine, unlike the mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, the manufacturer anticipates rapid and affordable industrial scale-up and manufacturing.

“As the virus mutates and challenges the immunity we have built through first-generation vaccines, we are excited to expand our focus on COVID by including a vaccine platform that has potential to scale at high speed and low cost,” said NRx Chairman and CEO Jonathan Javitt.

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved the establishment of a team to evaluate the construction of a vaccine-manufacturing plant in the country.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the purpose of the plant would be “to produce for ourselves locally made vaccines, without being dependent on others, in the context of both the coronavirus and future pandemics.”

“It must be understood, pandemics are part of the world’s fate, in the future, as they have been in the past. We must be ready for this,” he said.