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December 14, 2020 2:08 pm

Second Phase of Human Trials to Begin for Israeli-Developed Covid-19 Vaccine

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A nurse is seen at the Maccabi Healthcare Services COVID-19 vaccine complex in Tel Aviv, Israel, Dec. 13, 2020. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem / Pool via Reuters.

The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) is set to begin the second phase of human trials of its own domestically-developed coronavirus vaccine.

Israeli news site N12 reported that the approval for the new trials was received on Monday and they would begin within the next few days, with roughly a thousand volunteers taking part.

The trials will start at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer and Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, and will then expand to other facilities around the country.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz commented, “The scientists of the IIBR are Israel’s ‘elite unit,’ and have taken on an extremely important task — saving human lives.”

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“I see great importance in the development of an Israeli vaccine that will continue to serve Israeli society for years to come,” he added.

The first phase of the IIBR’s vaccine trials recently ended successfully, with significant effectiveness and limited side effects. Two committees of experts then gave the go-ahead for a second phase.

Among other things, the second trials will subject the new vaccine to safety tests and attempt to pinpoint the precise dosage that will be most effective. If successful, the IIBR will move to a large-scale trial that will include 30,000 volunteers from Israel and possibly abroad.

Two weeks ago, the head of IIBR, Professor Shmuel Shapira, told a Knesset committee that he expected the vaccine to be ready by summer 2021.

“We have the intention and ability to produce 15 million vaccines” for both Israeli consumption and possibly for surrounding Arab countries, he said.

Shapira added that the Israeli vaccine would  be of a less experimental nature than foreign vaccines such as that recently developed by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, in that it uses a more traditional method than the others, which introduce only an mRNA sequence from the virus into the body — a relatively new development in medical science.

“Our vaccine is sure-footed,” he stated.

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