Can Israel be the first country to develop Coronavirus vaccine? Researchers conduct test

  • Israel researchers were asked to join the race to find a cure for Coronavirus by PM Benjamin Netanyahu

  • The IIBR researchers already began testing of COVID-19 vaccine prototype

  • Health Minister Yaakov Litzman diagnosed with Coronavirus on Thursday

While the world is struggling to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus despite following extreme measures like mass lockdown, there is one question which people are asking every day- "When the vaccine will be ready?".

US and China both have started testing potential COVID-19 vaccine in March. Now, reports revealed that Israel, which has reported over 6,000 Coronavirus infection cases, said to have started testing of a COVID-19 vaccine prototype.

Israel working on Coronavirus vaccine

Long before US and China, in February, it was reported that the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Nes Tsiona, a subsidiary of the Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL), was working on the Coronavirus vaccine. It was also claimed that IBR was in the final process of developing the COVID-19 vaccine and in this process they were using their expertise in the past to develop a vaccine against avian Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV).

But soon, the country's Defence Ministry clarified that "There has been no breakthrough in the efforts of the biological institute to find a vaccine for the Coronavirus or to develop testing kits. The institute's work is conducted according to an orderly work plan and it will take time. If and when there will be something to report, it will be done in an orderly fashion."

But now it is mentioned that Israel has started the tests on rodents at its bio-chemical defence laboratory, a source said on Tuesday, March 31.

Coronavirus vaccine Reuters

Coronavirus cure on its way?

Earlier Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IIBR to join the race to create a vaccine for the new Coronavirus, which has killed more than 48,000 people globally and infected over 956,000 individuals. In a statement, PM Netanyahu said that IIBR director Shmuel Shapira had informed him of "significant progress" in designing a vaccine prototype and that the institute "is now preparing a model for commencing an animal trial".

As per the reports, a source told Reuters that trials were already underway on rodents. But what kind of rodents scientists are using still unknown? It should be noted that the IIBR is widely believed to have worked on biological and chemical arms projects but Israel neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.

Last week, IIBR chief innovation officer Eran Zahavy said the institution had shifted its entire focus to the new Coronavirus and mentioned that three groups of scientists are trying to develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 disease it causes, while another group is working on the treatment.

"We are trying as much as we can to collaborate and have other ideas from other people. But the facility of the lab is very crowded and very busy and very dangerous so it has to be very slow and very cautious," said Zahavy.

He said arranging an animal test-subject is a very "big challenge" as this deadly virus is not affecting animals. In addition, he also said, "It's not enough only to detect neutralising antibodies in the animal. You really want to see them getting sick and getting better by this vaccine."

It should be noted that the research institution, IIBR is also involved in plasma collection from already recovered Coronavirus patients with a that this might help in the creation of the vaccine.

Israel affected by Coronavirus

On Thursday, reports revealed that Israel's health minister and his wife were diagnosed with Coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines. Yaakov Litzman, 71, an ally of PM Netanyahu, has appeared regularly alongside the premier to provide updates on the spread of the virus in the country and new measures to combat it.

This week, Netanyahu and the chief of Israel's military, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, went into self-isolation after being exposed to Coronavirus carriers. Reports revealed that Netanyahu tested negative for the virus on Monday, March 30.

Related topics : Coronavirus