Moderna: Israel Might Receive Vaccine in First Half of 2021

YERUSHALAYIM -
(Reuters/Dado Ruvic/File Photo)

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will likely be available in Israel in the first half of 2021, a Moderna official said Thursday.

Last month, Moderna became the first medical company to publish blueprints of their coronavirus vaccine studies, helped by a $2.5 billion U.S. federal grant.

Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at the Massachusetts-based company, said that while the firm did not have a precise timetable, the vaccine would “certainly” be available in Israel in the first half of 2021.

Last week, Moderna said its vaccine could be given approval for emergency use in the U.S. as early as December.

Moderna’s candidate is an “mRNA vaccine,” an experimental platform that injects people with the genetic material necessary to grow the “spike protein” of SARS-CoV-2 inside their own cells, thus eliciting an immune response the body will remember when it encounters the real virus.

This effectively turns a person’s own body into a vaccine factory, avoiding the costly and difficult processes that more traditional vaccine production requires.

Zacks noted that some people had developed slight flu-like symptoms after receiving the second dose during test trials, but experts have seen no other symptoms as a result of the vaccination and that “the danger of coronavirus completely outweighs the risks.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) is set to begin clinical trials of its Brilife COVID vaccine by the end of the month, raising the possibility it will be ready before Moderna’s will.

Dr. Amos Panet, a member of the advisory board on vaccines for the institute, said that the Israeli vaccine is at a “very advanced” stage. “The clinical trials will take some time, but together with the Health Ministry and in cooperation with the hospitals, I estimate that it will progress quickly,” he said.

“I am very optimistic and hope that in the next six months we’ll see a ‘blue and white’ vaccine,” Panet added.

He said that the Israeli vaccine, unlike Moderna’s, is based on previously tested vaccine models, including for Ebola, which have proven to be effective.

“If I had to bet my chips on some sort of vaccine, I would put it on the Institute for Biological Research and not Moderna’s,” Panet said.