Yoav Even, a health reporter for News 12, reported that the two leading researchers at Sheba Medical Center receive funding from Pfizer for their research, as shown in a document by the New England Journal of Medicine, which published an article on the research.
Last week, Sheba published a large research showing that those who have a high quantity of antibodies are less likely to contract COVID-19 themselves, as well as less likely to transmit it to others. This study was among those presented to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and was among those considered when Bennett decided to offer a third dose to Israelis over age 60.
On Tuesday evening, it was revealed that Profesor Gili Regev-Yochay, who led Sheba's research, told the New England Journal of Medicine when asked about potential conflicts of interest that she receives funding from Pfizer. Professor Mark Lifscitz, who led the cooperation on the research with Harvard University, also said he had received funding.
Sheba Medical Center has emphasized that the funding is for other researches, not for the specific serology research, and therefore it is not an ethical issue.
A senior health official said, "Don't let them confuse you - at the end of the day, they are receiving funds from Pfizer, and the public needs to know that, because the public's faith is crucial."
The report emphasized that receiving funding in such a way, to cover other researches, is considered legitimate in the academic world, so long as the researchers declare it. It was also reported that Professor Ran Balicer, who is also conducting research on the Pfizer vaccine and whose institute receives funding from the company for the purposes of other research, unrelated to the vaccines; the funding is granted to the institution, and not to Prof. Balicer himself.
According to the report, the main issue is concern that the public's faith in the vaccines will be harmed. The vaccines themselves have undergone a great deal of research and testing, and they are considered safe and effective.