JERUSALEM: The state-run Israel Institute for Biological Research announced on 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 on November 1. The testing is to expand to the 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 neighbours. He did not elaborate.

The institute is run by the Defence Ministry. “This is a day of hope for the citizens of Israel,” said Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

Over 40 coronavirus vaccine candidates are in clinical trials worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

Israel, a country of about 9 million people, has reported over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 2,400 deaths. 

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