A “significant breakthrough” in developing an antibody to the novel coronavirus has been made by Israel’s main biological research institute IIBR that can attack the virus and neutralise it within the bodies of those who contract it, country’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed, news agency PTI stated.
A statement issued by Bennet’s office said Israel’s Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), mandated to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, has isolated an antibody “that attacks the virus in a monoclonal way and can neutralise it within the bodies of those ill”.
“I am proud of the institute staff for this terrific breakthrough,” Bennett said, adding that “their creativity and the Jewish mind brought about this amazing achievement”.
The statement, however, did not clarify whether human trials for the vaccine were conducted. According to PTI, the IIBR has conducted some clinical trials. The researchers have identified the protein that is efficient in killing the virus in a patient’s body, and the institute would be publishing a paper soon about the findings, PTI stated.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) May 4, 2020
Similar reports by Israeli daily Ha’aretz, earlier in March, revealed that scientists at the institute had made a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic capability, production of antibodies for those who already have the virus and development of a vaccine. However, the Defence Ministry had denied any breakthrough back then stating that “if and when there will be something to report, it will be done in an orderly fashion”.
Citing news portal Ynet, PTI said five shipments of virus samples arrived in Israel from Japan, Italy and other countries in February. They were brought by a specially secured Defence Ministry courier to IIBR and had been frozen at -80 degrees Celsius. There has been intensive work, including by leading experts, to develop the vaccine since then.
The IIBR is under the supervision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office, but is in close communication with the Defence Ministry.
Scientists and research teams around the world are trying to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 as virus-linked deaths have, so far, reached 252,102 and infections across the globe surged to over 3.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.