Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Sheba Medical Center this morning, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Director General of the Israel Institute for Biological Research, Prof. Shmuel Shapira, as well as his personal coronavirus aide, to be present for the launch of phase one human trials of the IIBR-developed Covid-19 vaccine, ‘Brilife.’

During the visit, the minister was briefed on the vaccination process and follow-up by senior staff and met with one of two volunteers injected with the vaccine this morning, the other injection being administered in parallel at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

In a statement, following the visit, Gantz said: “There is cause for a measure of cautious optimism today… Optimism, because I think excellent work is being done by our top scientists across the board, all of whom are giving their very best, and this is cause for optimism. Cautious, because this is still a long and uncertain process. It will take time to track, to process the data, and to draw meaningful conclusions, and it will require patience."

"At the same time, as the Prime Minister said, we need the public’s cooperation in following the regulations so that we can contend with the situation we’re in, bring down infection rates to whatever degree possible, and reopen the economy.

"From our end, the Ministry of Defense is out there on the ground in municipal authorities throughout Israel, offering assistance, overseeing efforts to import all the supplies we need. We’re looking at starting a local production line of supplies to bring the system to maximal effectiveness and productivity as well.

"But what I’d like to share with you, Mr. Prime Minister, and all of you here today, are the words I heard from Segev, Israel’s very first Covid-19 vaccine volunteer. He said to me: ‘Help us. I’m here because I needed to tell you to help us. I’ve changed jobs three times over the few months before getting vaccinated. Please get an economic plan rolling.’

"Mr. Prime Minister, I say to you that we cannot stop at protecting our security, we cannot stop at protecting our health, we need to help the economy, with an immediate 2021 economic recovery plan. Every day that passes is a lost day which deepens the economic load on Israeli citizens without any justification.

"I hope we can find the right way to move forward and, just as we protect our security together, and just as we are fighting this coronavirus together, we can also help the economy together…That is the way to protect the society that we cherish so much and which we see unraveling in front of our eyes.”