The governmental Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has approval from the Ministry of Health and the Helsinki Committee to begin testing its vaccine, BriLife, against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on November 1.

The IIBR has prepared 25,000 doses of BriLife and has recruited the first volunteers in an 80-person clinical trial, 40 at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem and 40 at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

Each volunteer, aged 18 to 55, will receive an injection (vaccine or placebo). After a few hours of supervision he/she will be discharged and monitored for three weeks for any possible side effects and for the development of antibodies to the virus in response to the vaccine.

Vials of BriLife, the experimental Covid-19 vaccine from the Israel Institute for Biological Research. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office

The second phase will include extensive safety tests on 960 healthy volunteers, to begin in December in several medical centers across Israel. In this phase, scientists aim to complete vaccine safety precautions, determine effective dosage, and further determine the vaccine’s effectiveness.

The third and final phase is a large-scale trial to test the effectiveness of BriLife, with the participation of up to 30,000 volunteers. Subject to the success of the first two phases, this phase is scheduled to begin in April or May. If it is successful, the vaccine may be approved for mass use.

On June 21, ISRAEL21c reported that a single dose of the IIBR’s recombinant VSV-∆G-spike vaccine “results in rapid and potent induction of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2” in Syrian golden hamsters in a successful preclinical trial. It was also tested successfully in mice, rabbits and pigs, paving the way to human trials.

“Our final goal is 15 million doses for the residents of the State of Israel and for our close neighbors,” said Prof. Shmuel Shapira, director of the IIBR.

Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office

The research institute in Ness Ziona, which is part of the Ministry of Defense, has been directing all its efforts in the past few months toward novel coronavirus research.

In collaboration with several partners, the IIBR also is developing an antibody-based Covid-19 treatment and a new method to detect the virus through breath analysis.

Shapira said the name BriLife puts together the Hebrew word for health, briut, with “il” for Israel and “life” — which speaks to the importance of the vaccine.