Israel will hold first trials of a COVID-19 vaccine with 100 volunteers, Sheba Medical Centre in central Israel said on Thursday.
The trials are scheduled to begin in October at Sheba hospital and Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, both selected for the task because they have large centres for clinical trials.
The vaccine, developed by Israel’s governmental Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), is based on another virus that is not harmful to humans.
One component of this virus has been replaced by a component of the novel coronavirus, which is responsible for its binding to human cells.
The body’s immune system is supposed to identify the binding site and develop antibodies against it, preventing the coronavirus from binding to the cell.
In June, the IIBR announced success in the vaccine trials on hamsters. The vaccinated hamsters’ blood did not contain residues of coronavirus, and they also developed antibodies against the virus.
In the first stage, the safety of the vaccine will be tested after the volunteers receive the vaccine at one dose, through a muscle, hand or buttocks.
If it is proven that the vaccine has no significant side effects, the trials will be expanded to hundreds of volunteers, and then its effectiveness will also be tested.
Zeev Rotstein, Director-General of Hadassah, told the Hebrew news website “Ynet” that the hospital staff is ready, including special facilities needed for the first phase of the complex trials.
“We will have to do it according to the rules and in a perfect way that will be good, efficient and without additional risks,” he added.