Coronavirus Pandemic:
'Every breakthrough is a big step towards victory'

Israeli researchers develop 'Shalom Corona antibody' designed to neutralize the coronavirus. President Rivlin lauds 'breakthrough'.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rivlin and Bennett at Bio Research center
Rivlin and Bennett at Bio Research center
Koby Gideon (GPO)

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin on Thursday visited the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Nes Ziona, together with Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett.

The IIBR is the first research center in the world that has developed an antibody to fight Covid-19. The president was escorted on his visit by IIBR scientists and its director, Prof Shmuel Shapira and by the Minister of Defense’s assistant for protection, Brig-Gen Moshe Edri.

During his visit, the president spoke with the scientists leading the work to develop an antibody and then visited the laboratories which are working around the clock on this project. The researchers told the president that they have been able to develop a series of antibodies that neutralize the virus using various mechanisms, whose source is coronavirus patients. The antibodies have been tested and successfully neutralized the aggressive coronavirus.

The president heard about the development and its significant economic implications, and asked Minister Bennett, who has followed and promoted the antibody development since the beginning, and the staff of IIBR to keep Israel’s social and economic periphery at the forefront of their minds, specifically mentioning the possibility of opening an immunization production facility in Yeruham, which is working right now on the appropriate infrastructure for such a facility.

This scientific achievement has the potential to develop a drug for coronavirus patients but is not an immunization for the population as a whole. According to the assessment of IIBR’s scientists, the technological breakthrough may shorten the process, which could take several months, and could be used even if the virus mutates in any way. In the coming days, patents will be registered for the antibodies they have developed and then a scientific article will be published by the researchers for peer review.

“Last week, we celebrated 72 years of independence. Our biological independence is vital to the State of Israel,” said the president during the briefing he received on his visit to IIBR. “The whole world is hoping for the day an antibody, an immunization, a drug or treatment is found that will help us save lives. In my talks with world leaders, whenever we speak about breakthroughs and innovation – all eyes are on us. This is a long and complex process, but any breakthrough you make is a significant step towards victory”

“I hope very much that good news will come from Zion – good news that will allow us to ensure the health of all those whose lives are in danger. I hope we can bring grandparents and all those in high-risk groups out of isolation, which is so hard. I hope we can restart the economy,” said the president, thanking the scientists of IIBR. “This institution makes us proud. Thank you! You are a credit to the State of Israel.”

Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett: “This is a great day for Israel. This is another great Israeli breakthrough in less than a week, which will allow us not only to deal with the current strain of coronavirus but also with possible mutations. I have instructed the military establishment and the Israel Institute for Biological Research to progress as quickly as possible to a treatment for everyone. We will not spare money or resources. Everything will be done to shorten the time to get to a commercial drug.”