Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer began vaccinating volunteers today as part of the Phase I human trial for the Covid-19 vaccine developed at the Israel Institute of Biological Research with the support of the Ministry of Health. The first volunteers was vaccinated at the special ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein. Another volunteer was also given the vaccination this morning in Jerusalem at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.
The first volunteer Segev Harel, 26, from Sde Nehemia did not suffer any immediate side effects from the vaccination. Harel an undergraduate business administration student at Ruppin College said, 'I decided to volunteer for the trial because I see it as a great privilege to help and to contribute. So many people have been damaged by coronavirus in terms of health, emotionally and economically and if this will contribute, then I can give it, and bring hope that we are about to end this virus and I have played my part."
Asked if he was worried Harel said, "I'm a healthy man and I believe in my body's immune system. I sat down with the doctors and I don't think there is anything to fear and in fact I'm certain of it." He added that his parents are very supportive. "They're glad that I have the opportunity to do this historic thing."
Sheba said that Harel, like all the volunteers, would receive payment for participating in the trial, but would not receive any special bonus for being the first volunteer and taking part in the public relations ceremony.
80 volunteers will participate in the first phase of the trial and after 21 days doctors will check if they have developed antibodies and whether they are suffering any side-effects.
The aim is to find a significantly larger amount of antibodies than is found in a person who has recovered from Covid-19, and to locate "neutralizing antibodies," which scientists currently believe have the highest chance of intervening in the virus's mechanism and stopping the virus from hooking on to cells and proliferating within them. If these antibodies are found, the trial will progress to Phase II with 960 volunteers and finally Phase III with tens of thousands of volunteers. The final stage if all goes well could start in April 2021 and last until the end of the year.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 1, 2020
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