JERUSALEM: Scientists in Israel are expected to announce in the coming days that they have completed development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus COVID-19, according to a media report here.
Israeli daily Ha’aretz, quoting medical sources, reported on Thursday that scientists at the Israel’s Institute for Biological Research, supervised by the Prime Minister’s office, have recently had a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic capability, production of antibodies for those who already have the virus and development of a vaccine.
The development process, however, requires a series of tests and experiments that may last many months before the vaccination is deemed effective or safe to use, the report said.
The Defence Ministry, however, did not confirm the same in its response to the daily.
“There has been no breakthrough in the efforts of the biological institute to find a vaccine for the coronavirus or to develop testing kits. The institute’s work is conducted according to an orderly work plan and it will take time. If and when there will be something to report, it will be done in an orderly fashion”, the Defence Ministry told Ha’aretz.
“The biological institute is a world-renowned research and development agency, which relies on experienced researchers and scientists with great knowledge and quality infrastructures. There are now more than 50 experienced scientists working at the institute on researching and developing a medical remedy for the virus,” it added
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have ordered the institute to devote resources to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 on February 1.
There has been intensive work, including by leading experts, to develop the vaccine since then.
China released the genetic sequence of the virus on open scientific databases shortly after its outbreak in January so that research institutes and commercial companies could try to develop treatments and vaccines without requiring to obtain samples.
The vaccine was sent to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with clinical trials, which will include up to 25 health participants to start in April, the report said.
Any vaccine developed in Israel will presumably also need to go through a similar or even stricter process before it will be approved for use, the daily said.