Israel to begin human trials of coronavirus vaccine

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Israel to begin human trials of coronavirus vaccine

  • “This is a day of hope for the citizens of Israel,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz

JERUSALEM: The state-run Israel Institute for Biological Research announced Sunday that researchers will begin human testing on its coronavirus vaccine next week.
The institute said clinical tests on an initial group of 80 people would begin Nov. 1. The testing is to expand to a second phase of 960 people in December, with a third and final phase of 30,000 people next April or May depending on the results of the earlier phases.
“I believe in the abilities of our scientists and I am confident that we can produce a safe and effective vaccine,” said Dr. Shmuel Shapira, director of the institute.
He said the goal is to produce 15 million doses “for the benefit of the residents of the state of Israel and our close neighbors.” He did not elaborate.
The institute is run by the Defense Ministry. “This is a day of hope for the citizens of Israel,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Over 40 coronavirus vaccine candidates are in clinical trials worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Israel, a country of about 9 million people, has reported over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 2,400 deaths.


Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

Updated 42 min 3 sec ago

Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

  • The health minister said Lebanon “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas

BEIRUT: Lebanon is from Monday to gradually ease restrictions imposed two weeks ago after a surge in coronavirus infections, in a bid to relieve its struggling economy in time for the festive season, officials said.
Acting health minister Hamad Hassan told reporters the country “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas and end of year holidays.
He said restaurants will reopen at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited, while an overnight curfew will start from 11 p.m. instead of 5pm.
Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online, Hassan said after a meeting of Lebanon’s coronavirus task force.
He warned that the “danger” of a rise in infections still exists and that the hoped-for results to stem the virus thanks to the curbs would not be known for several days.
Before the two-week restrictions went into force in mid-November, bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was between 80 and 90 percent while “now it stands at 65-70 percent,” Hassan said.
Since February, the country has recorded more than 125,000 Covid-19 cases, including around 1,000 deaths.
Lebanon, with a population of around six million, had been recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week before mid-November, according to the health ministry.
A first country-wide lockdown imposed in March was effective in stemming the spread of the virus, before restrictions were gradually lifted as summer beckoned people outdoors.
But the number of cases surged following a monstrous blast at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded at least 6,500 and overwhelmed hospitals.
The blast and the pandemic have exacerbated tensions in the Mediterranean country which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.