Israeli corona vaccine to begin human testing

Vaccine that showed success in treating animals to be given to humans in next stage of trials.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel will begin human tests of a new coronavirus vaccine this fall, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday.

During a tour of the Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), Gantz said the trials so far had shown positive results and the research lab that produced the potential cure is ready to move to human trials.

“We started off six months ago and received a boost from the Ministry of Defense,” said IIBR director Professor Shmuel Shapira. “We accelerated all the time and in fact I am proud to show that there are results.”

“There is an excellent vaccine, [but] there are regulatory processes that the vaccine needs to go through. We will start safety and efficiency trials after the holidays, but we have the product in hand,” Shapira said.

Gantz said the success of the first trials give great hope for a solution to the global pandemic, adding that human trials would “be done in coordination with the Ministry of Health and all required medical safety processes.”

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In early May scientists at the IIBR achieved a significant breakthrough by isolating the coronavirus antibodies. In June, a vaccine developed by the researchers was successfully tested on hamsters.

However, Prof. Hagai Levin, chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians, warned that people shouldn’t count on a miracle cure in the near future.

“It is encouraging news, but it is important to exercise caution and scientific humility, based on data,” Levin told Israel Army Radio, saying that waiting two months before starting the tests “raises questions.”

Despite the promise of a homegrown vaccine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the government is purchasing options for vaccines from international suppliers, including American companies that are also working to develop a cure.

“I cannot tell you that a vaccine will be found, but the signs at the moment seem encouraging. It is too early to tell. However, if there will be vaccines, I want the State of Israel to have access to these vaccines,” the prime minister said.