Hadassah: Ready to launch COVID-19 vaccine human trial on Sunday

Written by on October 30, 2020

The country’s development of a vaccine is considered the most significant step toward being able to beat coronavirus.

IIBR's vaccine candidate arrived at Hadassah and was placed in the deep-freezer (photo credit: Courtesy)

IIBR’s vaccine candidate arrived at Hadassah and was placed in the deep-freezer

(photo credit: Courtesy)

The Phase I human trial of Israel’s coronavirus vaccine candidate will begin on Sunday at 8 a.m. with a 34-year-old patient, Hadassah University-Medical Center said Friday

The vaccine candidate, known as Brilife, was developed by the Israel’s Institute for Biological research. 

The first injection will take place at Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The volunteer is a doctoral student from southern Israel. 

The country’s development of a vaccine is considered the most significant step toward being able to beat coronavirus. 

Speaking Thursday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic, and that Israel was working on multiple fronts to obtain one. These include developing its own, purchasing promising vaccine candidates and negotiating with other countries to be able to acquire doses through them, if needed. 

The Hadassah Clinical Research Unit said Friday that it has completed the final preparations for vaccination. On Thursday night, the participant received a message from the director of the Hadassah Clinical Research Unit and the hospital’s research coordinator and the final details were agreed upon. 

The vaccine doses were received by the pharmacist of the unit at Hadassah and placed in the deep-freezer until Sunday morning, when they will be prepared for the first injection.

Sheba Medical Center will also be injecting a first patient with the vaccine on Sunday. 

The Phase I human trial will last several months and ultimately be conducted on 80 health volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55. Each volunteer will be monitored over the course of three weeks to determine if there are any side effects caused by the vaccine. Researchers will also examine whether volunteers develop antibodies to coronavirus, which leads to immunity.

IIBR’s vaccine candidate is based on a well-known method of vaccination, the institute has said. What is new is the use of a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) – a type of virus that does not cause diseases in humans. Through genetic engineering, proteins are attached to the VSV virus to form coronavirus “crowns” that are identified by the body as COVID-19. As a result, the body produces antibodies against it.

The vaccine has already been tested on pigs and found to be effective. 

The name of Israel’s vaccine has meaning in Hebrew. The “bri” is the first part of the Hebrew word for health; the “il” stands for Israel and “life,” explained IIBR director-general Prof. Shmuel Shapira.

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