The human trial of Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate ‘Brilife’ will begin by the end of this month, with the Defence Minister terming it a “very significant moment” and “source of national pride” that could bring great news for the country and the world.
The prospective vaccine is being developed by the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) that was established in 1952 as part of the Israel Defence Forces’ Science Corps, and later became a civilian organization.
Israel had claimed in August that it already has the vaccine against the coronavirus “in hand” but it has to go through regulatory processes that would begin with human trials following the autumn holidays.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Monday visited the IIBR and described the process of beginning human trials as a “very significant moment” and “source of national pride” that can bring great news for Israel and the rest of the world.
He was briefed on relevant details related to the vaccine’s production and the anticipated timetable.
“We are at a very significant moment. The staff has done fantastic work If the process is successful, it will be huge news for the state of Israel and maybe for the world. I’d like to thank the entire staff of researchers and administrators at the IIBR. You are a source of national pride,” the minister said.
IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira, during Gantz’s visit, unveiled the name of the prospective vaccine. ‘Brilife’, which is a combination of the Hebrew word “Bri” (health) and “il” (the internet country code for Israel) and “life”.
“We set out nine months ago on February 2, and we are entering the final round at the end of October… We will continue to work for the health of the citizens of Israel as well as for the Israeli economy and society,” Shapira said.
The IIBR chief, during the minister’s previous visit in August, had announced that “there is an excellent vaccine, but there are regulatory processes that the vaccine needs to go through We will start safety and efficacy trials after the autumn holidays, but the product is in hand.”
The media release did not specify as to how long the human trials are likely to take and by when the vaccine would be ready for use.
In May, Israel announced that the IIBR, mandated to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, had made a “significant breakthrough” by wrapping up the development phase of the antibody and moving to patent and mass produce the potential treatment.
Earlier in March, Israeli daily Haaretz, quoting medical sources, reported that scientists at the institute had made 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 IIBR is technically under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office, but works in close communication with the defence ministry.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have asked the institute in February to devote resources to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.