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Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Thursday that the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona will begin human trials on a vaccine for COVID-19 after the  Jewish holidays in September.

“The successful preliminary trials raise much hope,” said Gantz. “The next step, as agreed, is the beginning of human trials after the High Holidays. This will be done in coordination with the Health Ministry and according to all medical safety requirements.”

Prof. Shmuel Shapira, director of the institute, was optimistic about the prospects of a vaccine.

“We have a terrific vaccine,” said Shapira holding up a vial. “There are regulatory processes that the vaccine needs to go through in order to meet the timetable you laid out. We are starting after the Tishrei holidays with safety and efficiency tests, but we have the product in our hands,”

There are currently four other COVID-19 vaccines that have reached phase 3 clinical trials; one by AstraZeneca at Oxford university, another funded by the Brazilian government, another by the Russian government, and one by Moderna in the US. In June, Israel signed a deal with Moderna for the potential purchase of its coronavirus vaccine if it proves effective. The institute is already preparing to manufacture 10 to 15 million doses. If successful, the Israeli-made vaccine will initially be available to Israeli citizens.

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