Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday with the director of the Israel Institute for Biological Research, Prof. Shmuel Shapira, to congratulate him on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus and the beginning of human trials for the vaccine during the Jewish High Holidays.
"I am happy to hear about the progress and I would like to congratulate you on that. Continue on this path, at the maximum speed that you think it scientifically can be done," Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister instructed to advance the work of the headquarters to examine the establishment of a plant to produce the vaccine in Israel. "I have directed the opening of a facility to develop a vaccine here in Israel out of great faith in our people and in our capabilities as a country," he said.
Prof. Shmuel Shapira told the prime minister: "Six months ago, you sent us on a journey to bring vaccines and antibodies to the State of Israel. We have fulfilled that task, and are fulfilling it to the best of our ability. We have in our hands an excellent vaccine. This is the first bottle of the vaccine - we have had a vaccine since last Thursday."
Prime Minister Netanyahu directed that the process be continued ahead of the completion of the trials and the production of the vaccine so that Israel will have safe and effective vaccines for all residents of Israel by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The IIBR’s rate of progress until now has been in keeping with the timetables determined at the outset by the National Security Council (NSC), the Defense Ministry and the Health Ministry.
Netanyahu also instructed that action be taken toward defining an outline to allow other countries to purchase vaccine options from Israel. The financing thus obtained will be able to assist in the establishment of production capabilities and processes.
IIBR activity to develop a vaccine began immediately with the State of Israel’s preparations to deal with the coronavirus. The Prime Minister set for the IIBR the goal of developing a vaccine or of becoming involved in efforts to develop one. Accordingly, a detailed plan was prepared, resources were allocated and efforts were made by IIBR research teams, with the assistance of the NSC, the Defense Ministry and the Health Ministry. Diplomatic steps were also taken to support some of the actions necessary to secure approval for the vaccine, in order to allow for strict regulation of the experiments carried out by the IIBR.