JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli research institute that is overseen by the Defence Ministry intends to begin human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as early as October, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Thursday.
The Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) would start the trials in conjunction with the Health Ministry after a series of Jewish holidays ends in October, Gantz said. The IIBR has been working on a vaccine for six months and began animal trials in March.
“All the initial experiments that have been successful … give great hope,” Gantz said after touring the institute in Ness Ziona, about 25 km (15 miles) south of Tel Aviv.
Shmuel Shapira, the IIBR’s director, said: “There is an excellent vaccine …We have the product in hand.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited the institute’s bio-chemical defence laboratory last month and was briefed on a coronavirus vaccine prototype for which it is seeking preliminary U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.
COVID-19 infections have spiked in Israel in recent weeks to reach 78,500, with 569 deaths.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen and Frances Kerry)