Israeli lab claims successful COVID-19 vaccine trial on rodents

The Israel Institute of Biological Research claimed it has completed successful COVID-19 vaccine trials on rodents, which has paved the way for additional trials in human beings.

The Israeli Defense Ministry-run laboratory based in Ness Ziona, said it hopes to have a finished vaccine in a year, or possibly even earlier.

A researcher at Protein Sciences moves a vial in a lab, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Meriden, Conn. The biotech company is currently researching a vaccine for COVID-19. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

According to The Times of Israel, the lab made the claim in a paper published Friday on the website of bioRxiv, an online repository for papers that haven’t yet been peer-reviewed,

In the abstract of the report, the researchers said their vaccine, which they tested on hamsters, “results in rapid and potent induction of neutralising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” the virus that causes COVID-19.

During the trials, two groups of rodents were infected with the coronavirus, but only one group had first been given the vaccine.

Whereas the unvaccinated group became sick, the vaccinated rodents remained healthy, researchers claimed.

“Importantly, single-dose vaccination was able to protect hamsters against SARS-CoV-2 challenge, as demonstrated by the abrogation of body weight loss of the immunised hamsters compared to unvaccinated hamsters,” they wrote in the report.

While the lungs of infected hamsters showed extensive tissue damage and a high viral load, the report said that those given the vaccine “showed only minor lung pathology” and had no viral load.

Testing on rodents is a key preliminary stage in developing medicines and enables further testing to begin on other animals.

If those are also successful, the trials will move to humans to check the vaccine’s effectiveness and for any side effects, the report said.

About 100 research groups around the world are pursuing vaccines for the coronavirus, with nearly a dozen in early stages of human trials or poised to start.

But so far there is no way to predict which — if any — vaccine will work safely, or even to name a front-runner.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top expert, has cautioned that even if everything goes perfectly, developing a vaccine in 12 to 18 months would set a record for speed.

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