Israeli researchers are weeks away from developing a vaccine against COVID-19, Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis stated, adding that the vaccine could be ready within three weeks and enter the marketplace 90 days later.
“Congratulations to MIGAL [The Galilee Research Institute] on this exciting breakthrough,” Akunis said. “I’m confident that there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat.”
Scientists at the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute have been developing a vaccine for four years against a coronavirus in poultry called infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and recently proved its effectiveness in clinical trials.
The scientists discovered that COVID-19 shares close genetic similarity with the poultry coronavirus as well as the same infection mechanism, which will enable them to adapt the poultry coronavirus vaccine to a human coronavirus vaccine within a short amount of time.
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“All we need to do is adjust the system to the new sequence,” said Dr. Chen Katz, MIGAL’s biotechnology group leader. “We are in the middle of this process, we’ll hopefully have the vaccine in our hands in a few weeks. Yes, in a few weeks, if it all works, we would have a vaccine to prevent coronavirus.”
However, even if a vaccine is developed within a few weeks, it would take about another three months to complete clinical trials, regulatory drug processes and mass-production.
Akunis instructed the Director-General of the Science and Technology Ministry to expedite the approval processes for regulatory trials for the vaccine to enable a coronavirus vaccine to reach the marketplace as swiftly as possible.
“Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development,” David Zigdon, CEO of MIGAL, said. “Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next 8-10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days.”
“We are currently in intensive discussions with potential partners that can help accelerate the in-human trials phase and expedite completion of final-product development and regulatory activities.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)