TEL AVIV – Israeli scientists said they are “days away” from obtaining the active component of a coronavirus vaccine that could lead to human testing as early as June 1.
“We are in the final stages and within a few days we will hold the proteins – the active component of the vaccine,” Chen Katz from the Galilee Research Institute Migal biotechnology group told The Jerusalem Post.
The team has already begun testing on mice and is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the product will be considered safe for human trials set to begin on June 1.
According to Katz, since the vaccine is oral, regulatory procedures will be shorter.
“The quality of this kind of vaccine should be closer to food regulations than pharma regulations or somewhere in between,” Katz said. “We hope that we will not need to go through the complete purification process like in the drug industry, because that could delay us.”
In February, Migal said the vaccine would be ready in 8-10 weeks and have it market-ready within 90 days. Katz told the Post they were delayed “because it took longer than expected to receive the genetic construct that they ordered from China due to the airways being closed.”
The oral vaccine could “turn this disease into a very mild cold,” Katz told the Times of Israel earlier this month, adding that vaccinated individuals who become infected by COVID-19 would likely not be affected at all.
“The opportunity is amazing here,” he said. “Everyone wants to know we can contribute something to humanity and when we found we had the right tools to do it this became is very exciting.”
Scientists at the institute had a head start on developing the inoculation, having spent the past four years developing a vaccine protect poultry from the avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), a virus strain similar to the novel coronavirus currently plaguing the world.
Scientists sequenced the DNA of both the poultry and human coronaviruses and found they shared genetic similarities.
Meanwhile, the director-general of the Israel Institute for Biological Research told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that “significant progress” was being made in the defense institute‘s efforts in developing a vaccine against COVID-19 and will soon start testing on animals, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) has also begun developing a passive vaccine made from antibodies extracted from recovered COVID-19 patients who donated blood.