After the announcements: The challenges of the race for the Israeli vaccine


Ganz at the Biological Institute announces the start of vaccine trials, today in Ness Ziona

(Photo: Tal Oz, Ministry of Defense)

The announcement of the Defense Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister Bnei Gantz Today (Thursday), about the Biological Institute Will begin vaccination trials Against the corona virus in humans after the Tishrei holidays, it was received with mixed feelings among members of the health system in Israel.
Along with the great hope of finding a vaccine as a result of Israeli development, a number of experts have pointed out the problems in the process alongside the potential, as well as the realistic schedule – whether the trials will indeed mature into actual development. Some also criticized the military’s involvement in such a scientific project. In addition, it should be noted that several international companies, including Modern, Astra Zenica and Pfizer, are already in the clinical stages of human trials.

Bnei Gantz's visit to the Biological InstituteBnei Gantz's visit to the Biological Institute

Ganz at the Biological Institute

(Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Ministry of Defense)

“In principle, such a project must undergo a peer review that examines a number of things, including scientific ability, development ability, project planning and cost,” said Prof. Dror Mevorach, director of the internal department, corona department and director of the Center for Rheumatology at Hadassah Ein Kerem.

“The cost of the project for a company like American Modern, which is also working on a vaccine, is estimated at more than half a billion dollars,” he added. “Today there are more than 160 companies and institutes involved in finding vaccines, and some of them have an advantage – because they have reached the crucial third stage. “.

According to him, such a project requires logistics that often exist in a much better way in large companies than in a research institute. Prof. Mevorach further claimed that “the fact that the Ministry of Defense is managing the project raises questions – they would not have expected me, a doctor, to manage the Iron Dome project. The Ministry of Defense, which has many fantastic capabilities can help with epidemiological investigations, but develop a vaccine for the disease? It seems strange.It makes sense for the Ministry of Defense to be involved in biological warfare, but to develop a pandemic vaccine?

"The project in the hands of the Ministry of Defense raises questions". Prof. Dror Mevorach"The project in the hands of the Ministry of Defense raises questions". Prof. Dror Mevorach

“The project in the hands of the Ministry of Defense raises questions.” Prof. Dror Mevorach

(Photo: Eli Mandelbaum, Uri Davidovich and Asi)

“I do not think this is the role of the Ministry of Defense, and if he has good ideas then it is better to have cooperation between him and people that it is their profession,” he added, “the army does not have the scientific ability to manage this project. “Many questions arise that are beyond science. Such processes need to be transparent, the whole process should be under the supervision of scientists and experts in drug development and project development who can realistically estimate the cost of the project and the time.”

“This is very good news, but at the same time I suggest driving carefully because we know how long it takes for a vaccine to really be developed, and it usually takes a few years,” said Prof. Yehuda Adler, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Academic Center for Law and Business in Ramat Gan.

“The speed in this case is understandable, but the haste is from the devil. I think it is too early to rejoice and say that we have a vaccine. It is not for nothing that it takes a long time to develop a vaccine, because naturally the process is fast, be careful not to celebrate now,” he said. “In addition, the pace of the Israeli vaccine is slower. It may be a sign of caution, and we may be lagging behind others who are investing much more.”

However, he said that “speed does not necessarily determine the quality of the vaccine.” Prof. Adler explained: “These are two types, if you compare the institute’s vaccine to that of Moderna. Moderna works on a vaccine based on the genetic material, and the institute is based on proteins that are in the envelope of the virus. We do not know which is better, these are two different mechanisms “.

Ethan Friedman Ethan Friedman

“Vaccine development takes several years.” Prof. Eitan Friedman

(Photo: Avi Mualem)

Prof. Eitan Friedman, founder and director of the Oncogenetics Unit at the Genetic Institute at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, expressed hope that the institute’s efforts would mature into an experiment, but he also pointed out the problems in the project. “If we’ve talked before about a herd vaccine or a vaccine – then a herd vaccine is not an option. The great hope is that one of those five vaccines that are in the advanced stages will succeed,” he said.

“In addition, the hope is that whoever produces the vaccine will be able to produce vaccines in quantities that will be sufficient for Israel as well. The institute’s vaccine is effective at the animal level, and there is a significant difference between a proven vaccine in laboratory conditions and animals.”

“Less than 20% of the vaccines tested reach clinical realization,” Prof. Friedman continued. “We need to invest money in this and speed up the process, but it is not certain that there will be a blue-and-white vaccine. However, this is an option that needs to be pushed as hard as possible. In a year from now, the vaccine will be effective for humans and free of side effects. “

Netanyahu on tour of Shaare Zedek: “Progressing towards the vaccine”

(Photo: GPO)

Earlier today, Bnei Gantz visited the Biological Institute in Ness Ziona together with the institute’s director, Prof. Shmuel Shapira, and examined the progress in the development of the vaccine and antibody to the virus.

“Experiments on humans should begin after the Tishrei holidays,” Gantz said. “It is that the trials will begin in humans after the Tishrei holidays. This will be done in coordination with the Ministry of Health and according to all the processes required in terms of medical safety.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu He toured Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, and visited one of the control centers of the corona department at the institution. After the tour, Netanyahu Detailed schedule The emergence of the development of the Israeli vaccine.

“Right now there are going to be three stages,” the prime minister said, “the first stage is an experiment in 100 people. The second phase is an experiment in 1,000 people. The third stage is an experiment at 30,000, which is the international requirement. The trial for up to 1,000 people will be completed by the end of the year. The trial of 30,000 people – if we pass the first two stages and the safety test next to them – will be until the end of the first quarter. I do not want to wait all this time, and I have decided to start raising options from different countries and different factors so that we have a factory that starts producing vaccines. “


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