March 30, 2020

Israeli Science Minister Says Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Ready In Weeks

A video monitor inside the Medical Health and Coordination Center at the California Department of Public Health shows the number of Coronavirus COVID-19 cases around the world on February 27, 2020 in Sacramento, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined State health officials to an update to the public about the state's response to the Coronavirus known as COVID-19 a day after a possible first case of person-to-person transmission was reported in Northern California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis announced in a Feb. 27 release that Israeli scientists could have a coronavirus vaccine ready in weeks.

The Jerusalem Post reports that The Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) had been working on a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) in poultry over the past few years. MIGAL’s scientists were able to tweak that vaccine for coronavirus given that the illness has similar genes and infection mechanisms in both poultry and humans.

The coronavirus vaccine would be taken orally, according to MIGAL CEO David Zigdon.

“Given the urgent global need for a human Coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development,” Zigdon said at a press conference. “Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next 8-10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days.”

According to CNBC, there have been 82,500 cases of coronavirus worldwide; more than 2,500 of those infected died from the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that coronavirus can spread from person-to-person contact or from touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth. Symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, can occur 2-14 days after being infected.

Akunis said in a statement, “Congratulations to MIGAL on this exciting breakthrough. I am confident that there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris tweeted, “Once again, #Israel is helping advance the frontiers of human knowledge & make the world a better place. #BDS supporters, will you boycott any new Israeli anti-coronavirus medicines?”

There have been three Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus to date, with the most recently diagnosed occurring on Feb. 27 after he returned from Italy on Feb. 23. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he would sign a document barring foreigners in Italy from entering Israel. The Israeli government has currently banned foreigners from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand from entering the country over concerns of coronavirus. The government has also advised Israelis to avoid traveling if possible.