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In the Family: First Recipient of COVID-19 Vaccine at Sheba is Grandson of Virology Lab Director

Segev Harel was one of the first two volunteers to be inoculated with the IIBR coronavirus vaccine. He is the grandson of Prof. Ella Mendelsshon, Director of Sheba’s Virology Laboratory, and the first scientist to analyze the virus in Israel.

When several Israeli passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship were set to return home, a sample of the virus was sent to the Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center for analysis. The director of the lab, Prof. Ella Mendelssohn, was the first scientist to receive the sample in order to prepare Sheba’s laboratory capabilities.

Many months later, Segev Harel, 26, became one of the first two recipients of the Israeli vaccine for coronavirus. Segev is Prof. Mendelssohn’s grandson, inoculated on November 1 at Sheba.

“The act he did is beautiful and dignified,” said Prof. Mendelssohn. “He consulted with me, said he wanted to sign up and asked what I thought. I would not have let him go into the experiment if I didn’t think the level of risk is low and that it’s important … If I were his age, obviously I would have volunteered for the experiment, too.”

Before advising her grandson, Mendelssohn investigated the details and the doctors at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), where the vaccine was developed. She is very familiar with her colleagues at the institute and was impressed with them as serious scientists who have saved the people of Israel on more than once occasion.

In response to Segev’s vaccination, Mendelssohn exclaimed, “It’s an exciting way to close the circle. When we were the first to develop the kit for COVID-19 and did the first test, no one imagined we’d be doing so many tests afterwards … At a certain point, it became clear that the virus would not be going away without the help of a vaccine. My grandson is the Nachshon [the brave pioneer], after whom many others will follow.”

“I laughed that I’ve been working behind the scenes for 30 years and [the public] knows nothing about my work, and my grandson made a sensational leap and became famous overnight!” said the proud grandmother.

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