Israeli Vaccine Finishes Phase I, Hospitals Warn of Third Wave

Prof. Zeev Rotstein, CEO of Hadassah Hospital, where Phase I trials of an Israeli vaccine have been completed. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

There was good news and bad news on the pandemic front in Israel on Thursday: Phase I in trials of an Israeli vaccine was completed successfully, and the government gave the green light to 15 shopping malls to reopen starting Friday. But at the same time, hospital directors issued a warning that a third way of the coronavirus is on the way.

Hadassah-University Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center announced that Brilife, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Israel Institute of Biological Research has made good progress.

“We are pleased to announce that the first phase of the clinical research trial of the coronavirus vaccine was a success,” director of the clinical research unit at Hadassah, Prof. Yossi Karko, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

Two groups of 40 volunteers each were vaccinated at the two hospitals. Phase II, which will include older adults and some individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, is slated to start in hospitals across the country within three weeks.

On Wednesday night, the Coronavirus Cabinet approved a pilot plan to reopen 15 malls, as well as street markets and some museums, starting Friday.

To effectively examine compliance with the coronavirus guidelines, the pilot will be conducted in a limited number of 15 malls in total, six of which belong to the two largest groups. The other nine will be determined by a lottery.

On Thursday, the government put out a list of the malls: Krayon, The Great Mall in Petah Tikva, The Grand Mall in Beersheva, The Azrieli Mall in Haifa, The Ayalon Mall, and The Malha Mall.

In addition to these, nine malls, with at least 20 stores each, will also open: Three in the north, three in Tel Aviv and the center, and three in Yerushalayim and the south. They will be chosen by a lottery that will be carried out at the Finance and Economy ministries according to the rules.

The lottery was necessitated by “legal difficulties that arose due to the fact that choosing the 15 could harm the fairness” of the program.

The museums on the reopening list included: Madatech, The Israel Museum, The Tel Aviv Art Museum and the The Eretz Yisrael Museum.

The Cabinet also voted to reopen open-air markets in a limited fashion.

Meanwhile, in Health Ministry-hosted videoconference of heads of hospitals from around the country, the consensus was that a third wave of the coronavirus is coming, according to Channel 12.

The hospital officials issued the warning to the ministry’s director-general, Chezy Levy, the report says.

They also discussed the vaccination of medical staff, the network said.

The warning comes as Israel exceeded 1,000 virus cases in a day, for the first time in a month.

The new coronavirus czar, Prof. Nachman Ash added his cheerful note, saying, “It will take time. There are difficult days ahead…. It won’t be easy, it won’t be short. My working assumption is that the coronavirus will remain with us for the next year,” he said in his first press briefing on Thursday.

Vaccinating the country could, possibly, end in mid-2021, but may only be completed “toward the end of next year,” he said.

He agreed, of course, that a third nationwide lockdown is possible.

The current figures are “worrisome…there is no room for complacency.”

With the reopening of more schools and malls, “there is likely to be a deterioration that will lead to a lockdown,” he says, adding that he won’t hesitate to recommend it.


Updated Thursday, November 26, 2020 at 3:00 pm .