Sheba Medical Center and Hadassah Medical Center were chosen for the initial trials of a COVID-19 vaccine. Both of these Israeli hospitals were selected because they have large facilities for clinical research. 100 volunteers will be participating in the trial, set to begin in October.
Volunteers are still needed for the Sheba trial, the first of its kind in Israel. To qualify, candidates must be over 18 years old without a past or present verified coronavirus infection. Participants will receive the vaccine and be monitored over the course of the next year.
The potential vaccine, which is based on a different virus that isn’t harmful to humans, was developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), a state-owned enterprise. To develop it, a component of the novel coronavirus that is responsible for the virus binding to human cells was used to replace a component of the other virus.
When the vaccine is injected into the human body, the immune system is supposed to recognize the binding site and develop antibodies against it. As a result, the coronavirus is prevented from binding to the cell.
Vaccine trials were performed on hamsters last June, and the IIBR proclaimed a success. When tested, the vaccinated hamsters’ blood did not contain traces of coronavirus – and the hamsters developed antibodies against the virus.
The first stage of clinical trials involves testing the safety of the vaccine. Volunteers will receive one dose administered as an intramuscular or intravenous injection. If results show that the vaccine does not cause significant side effects, the trials will then be expanded to hundreds of volunteers. At that point, the efficacy of the vaccine will also be tested.