Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Segev Harel, who volunteered to received the first experimental coronavirus vaccine. (GPO/Haim Zach) GPO/Haim Zach

Netanyahu congratulates launch of first human trials of Israeli-made coronavirus vaccine, “a very important day” in the fight against the pandemic

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised the launch of the human trials of the coronavirus vaccine developed at the Israel Institute for Biological Research.

Showing the importance of the event, Netanyahu pulled Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where they met with university student Segev Harel, 26, from northern Israel who volunteered to be the first during the clinical trials to receive the experimental vaccine .

“The true exit from the coronavirus crisis is in the development of vaccines,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore, this is a very important day, a day that gives a shot of encouragement.”

“With G-d’s help, we will have a vaccine made here in Israel. This is a very big thing,” the prime minister said. “I do not think that this will happen immediately, but I do tell you that I already see the light at the end of the tunnel – I see vaccines in the State of Israel.”

The vaccine, developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) and funded by the government, is being conducted at Sheba and at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem.

The IIBR reported success in animal trials conducted over the summer. Hamsters that received the vaccine did not get sick and developed antibodies against the coronavirus.

If the first stage of the human trials show that the vaccine does not cause significant side effects, the testing will be expanded to hundreds of volunteers to determine how well the vaccine works.

“I personally am using my connections with world leaders so that we will be able to receive [the vaccine] production here, not at the end of the line but at the front,” Netanyahu said. “I have spoken about this with my friend, US Vice President Mike Pence, who is dealing with this issue in the US, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Indian leader Narendra Modi, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Italian Prime Minister Conte and with others.”

“We will bring enough vaccines for all citizens of Israel. Then we will be able, at long last, with G-d’s help, to be free of the pandemic,” he said, reminding Israelis to stick with the health regulations, “to safeguard your lives and your health. Above all, wear masks over the nose and mouth.”

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