Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that scientists at the country's main biological research institute made a "significant breakthrough" in developing an antibody to the novel coronavirus when researchers completed the development phase and turned to patent and mass production of the potential treatment.
Bennett visited the laboratories of the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona on Monday, which was overseen and commissioned by the Prime Minister's office to develop a coronavirus vaccine. He was shown the "antibody that monoclonally attacks the virus and." can neutralize it within the body of the sick, "says a statement from his office.
The statement states that the development of the antibody has been completed and the institute is patenting the find. "In the next phase, researchers will turn to international companies to produce the antibody on a commercial scale."
"I'm proud of the institute's staff for this great breakthrough," said Bennett, adding that "their creativity and Jewish spirit have accomplished this amazing feat."
In March, the Israeli daily Ha & # 39; aretz, citing medical sources, reported that institute scientists had made a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and properties of the virus, including better diagnosis and the production of antibodies for those who already have the virus and vaccine development.
It was not immediately clear whether the Bennett breakthrough was in addition to the progress reported in late March, and no further details were disclosed.
The declaration also did not state whether experiments were carried out on humans.
The IIBR was founded in 1952 as part of the Israel Defense Forces' science corps and later became a civil organization.
It is technically under the supervision of the Prime Minister, but is closely related to the Ministry of Defense.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have instructed the institute on February 1 to provide funds for the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.
The Department of Defense had denied any breakthrough in March by simply saying "if and when there is anything to report, it will be done properly," the Department of Defense said at the time to Ha & # 39; aretz.
"The biological institute is a world-famous research and development agency that relies on experienced researchers and scientists with great knowledge and high-quality infrastructures. Meanwhile, more than 50 experienced scientists at the institute are working on the research and development of a medical drug for the virus" said it.
The normal development process of such a vaccine requires a long process of pre-clinical trials on animals, followed by clinical trials. This period enables a complete characterization of the side effects and a better understanding of the effects on different populations.
According to news portal Ynet, five programs with virus samples came to Israel from Japan, Italy and other countries in February.
They were brought to the IIBR by a specially secured courier from the Department of Defense and frozen at -80 degrees Celsius.
Since then, intensive work has been done on the development of the vaccine, including by leading experts.
Experts believe that the time it takes to develop a vaccine is between a few months and a year and a half.
Numerous research teams around the world are participating in the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Many of them are currently focusing on the way the virus presents itself in animals. The biggest hurdle is how it changes when it moves from animals to people.
China published the genetic sequence of the virus in open scientific databases shortly after its outbreak in January so that research institutes and commercial companies could try to develop treatments and vaccines without having to take samples.
Many private companies have also claimed to have successfully developed treatment for COVID-19, but there is still no proven track record.
The novel corona virus, which first appeared in China at the end of December, has killed more than 2.5 lakh people and infected more than 3.6 million worldwide.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)