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Hadassah-University Medical Center's Prof. Yossi Karko (left) and Hannah Drori, chief of the hospital’s clinical research center

Can Israel's Vaccine End the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine could be a game-changer for Israel and the rest of the world.

“There is innovation associated with the Israeli vaccine that potentially addresses this terrible virus better than other technologies,” said Dr. Jonathan Javitt, CEO of NeuroRx, the US pharmaceutical company that was given exclusive worldwide development, manufacturing, and marketing rights to Israel’s BriLife vaccine over the summer.

The vaccine candidate was originally developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), which operates under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office and works closely with the Defense Ministry.

Prof. Yossi Caraco, director of Hadassah’s clinical research unit, who served as the national principal investigator for the trial, said this data should be looked at with “precaution,” but that it was also “promising” and even “encouraging.”

The BriLife vaccine is based on a platform used by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. for its Ebola vaccine, meaning it is a platform that has been validated around the world for several years and has been proven both safe and effective.

BriLife is a vector-based vaccine. The vaccine takes the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and genetically engineers it so it will express the spike protein of the novel coronavirus on its envelope.

Once injected, it does not cause disease by itself. Instead, the body recognizes the spike protein that is expressed on the envelope and begins to develop an immunological response. Moreover, unlike other vaccines, this one binds to the exact cell in the lung that is targeted by the novel coronavirus.

“It’s like getting a virus-like coronavirus without getting the disease,” Caraco explained. “Then, if you happen to be exposed to the real coronavirus, the immunological response that was triggered by the vaccine will prevent infection.”

Most standard vaccines, such as the measles vaccine, expose the immune system to a weakened version of the antigen, which teaches it to recognize and kill the disease.

Novel mRNA vaccines, on the other hand, use a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected, enters the cells and sparks production of the viral components that subsequently train the immune system to fight the virus.

Because the BriLife vaccine presents the immune system with a somewhat more complete version of the spike protein, this may allow the immune system an opportunity to see more targets on the spike protein and therefore target more things on the virus – making it more effective against variants. (JPost / VFI News)

“Lord, we thank you for Israeli innovation. We ask that this new vaccine will bring immunity to all affected by Covid-19 and that this pandemic will come to an end.”