Israeli researchers from the government-run Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) expect to begin human trials for the COVID-19 vaccine candidate they developed after the high holidays this fall.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with IIBR Director-General Professor Shmuel C. Shapira on Thursday, as well as with heads of the IIBR research team and “congratulated them on the progress in developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, ahead of the stage of human trials, which will start after the fall holidays,” the Government Press Office said in a statement.
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“I am pleased to hear about the progress and I want to congratulate you on it. Continue on this path with the maximum speed that you deem scientifically sufficient,” Netanyahu said, according to the announcement.
Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz visited the Ness Ziona-based research institute on Thursday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“Experiments on humans should begin after the Tishrei holidays,” Gantz was quoted as saying in reference to the first month of the Hebrew calendar when the high holidays begin. “The human trials will be conducted in collaboration with the Health Ministry…and according to all the processes required in terms of medical safety,” Gantz added.
Professor Shapira said the institute developed “an excellent vaccine” over the past six months. During the call with Netanyahu, he held up a vial and said: “This is the first vial of the vaccine.”
Netanyahu instructed that evaluations begin on the establishment of vaccine production in Israel “so that Israel will have safe and effective vaccines for all residents of Israel by the end of the first quarter of 2021.”
He also instructed that an outline be drawn up to allow other countries to purchase vaccine options from Israel. “The financing thus obtained will be able to assist in the establishment of production capabilities and processes,” he said, according to the announcement.