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August 6, 2020 1:12 pm

Israeli Institute Set to Start Human Trials of Coronavirus Vaccine

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with Professor Shmuel Shapira, the head of the Institute for Biological Research, Aug. 6, 2020. Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry / Tal Oz.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Thursday that Israel would begin human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine in October, following the Jewish High Holidays.

During a visit to the Defense Ministry’s Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona, Gantz said the initial experiments on the vaccine had been successful, calling this a reason for “great hope.”

“The next stage is to begin human trials after the Tishrei holidays,” he said. “This will be done in coordination with the Health Ministry and according to the required processes from a health safety perspective.”

Prof. Shmuel Shapira, the head of the IIBR, said he was proud that the institute’s six months of research had shown results and produced “an excellent vaccine.”

He noted that there was now a long regulatory process to go through, but “we have the product in hand.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later spoke with Shapira via video, and said, “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. I directed that a vaccine be developed here in Israel out of great faith in our people and our abilities as a country.”

The prime minister added that he would now fast-track plans to build a vaccine-manufacturing facility in Israel.

There have been around 78,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, with 569 deaths.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited the IIBR facility last month.

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