Israel will begin human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine on Nov. 1 after receiving regulatory approval, the Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) began animal trials for its “BriLife” vaccine in March. The Health Ministry and an oversight committee have now given the green light to take it to the next stage.
The “Bri” is the first part of the Hebrew word for health; the “Il” stands for Israel and “life.”
According to the ministry statement, 80 healthy volunteers, between the ages of 18 and 55, will be monitored for three weeks to see if virus antibodies develop. Two other phases will take place over a period of six months to ensure the vaccine is approved for mass use.
The vaccine, the ministry said, has already tested well on a number of animal models and the IIBR has produced more than 25,000 doses for the first and second phases of the clinical trials.
The Institute’s final goal is 15 million rations for Israelis and Palestinians, the ministry stressed.
“This is a day of hope for the citizens of Israel, thanks to the researchers of the IIBR,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
He expressed gratitude for dozens of researchers who work day and night on this mission in full cooperation with the Health Ministry, pledging to provide the institute with all the means and support required to reach a safe and effective vaccine.
The IIBR affirmed it obtained all the necessary authorizations from the Health Ministry to begin human trials, noting that it also obtained the approval of the US Department of Health.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 12 channel reported on Monday that the foreign intelligence service, Mossad, brought a Chinese coronavirus vaccine to Israel in recent weeks in order to study and learn from it.
Israel is trying to reach agreements to purchase coronavirus vaccines from several other potential developers, according to an informed senior Health Ministry official.
The coronavirus cabinet held a two-day meeting on Sunday, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but found no radical solutions to the fundamental issues raised by the public on the current partial lockdown.
Members agreed on the gradual reopening of the educational sector, with tighter fines imposed on violators of Health Ministry instructions, A $150 fine will be imposed on those who do not wear a mask, and $10,000 for those who open their shops without an approval from the ministry.