Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated an Israeli Defense Ministry-run laboratory on its announcement it will begin testing its coronavirus vaccine on human subjects in October, with the vaccine expected to be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“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,” Netanyahu told the shadowy Israel Institute for Biological Research by videoconference.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the IIBR lab on Thursday where he was informed of recent “advancements in the development of the vaccine and antibodies for the coronavirus,” his office said.
“Experiments on humans should begin after the High Holidays,” Gantz said. “First of all, I would like to thank you – the people in the Defense Ministry and the people at the institute, who are doing a fantastic job.”
“Just as in the IDF there are elite units that break through and clear the path — you are the reconnaissance unit of the State of Israel in the Defense Ministry in the field of vaccines. I am at your service and I ask that you involve me in any matter that I can help with,” Gantz said.
IIBR Director General Prof. Shapira said “six months ago” his lab was ordered by the prime minister to build a vaccine.
“We have carried out the mission, and are carrying it out in the best way possible. We have an excellent vaccine. This is the first vial of the vaccine; since last Thursday, we have a vaccine,” Shapira said.
An Israeli TV news report last month said the IIBR had achieved nearly 100 percent efficacy with the vaccine in animals.
The report, by Channel 12, also said IIBR’s vaccine is as effective with a vaccine being developed by US biotechnology company Moderna. The latter signed a deal with IIBR to acquire the vaccine if its efficacy is proved.