Israeli COVID vaccine – still in clinical trials – appears to offer longer protection than Pfizer vaccine
But the shot is still a long way off from full approval
Some 230 volunteers who received a high dose of the Israeli–made COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials were informed that a third dose of the vaccine was unnecessary since they maintained a good level of protection six months after receiving the second dose, Israel's Channel 12 reported.
It appears that the Israeli COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), offers longer protection than the Pfizer vaccine which is widely used in Israel and around the world. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, BriLife is not based on mRNA technology.
While the report did not reveal exactly how the level of protection was measured, the assessment is likely based on antibody counts. Individuals who only received low or medium doses of the Israeli vaccine were informed that they did not provide sufficient protection and need to be supplemented with Moderna or Pfizer shots.
As Israel rolled out its world-leading vaccination program, ALL ISRAEL NEWS examined the domestic efforts to develop an Israeli shot against COVID-19. Clinical trials of the Israeli developed BriLife vaccine began last fall and it is still deep in the trial phase. After successfully completing the first trial phase, the second phase is ongoing.
While the Israeli vaccine is promising, its development has been lagging significantly behind its global competitors. It has also faced some setbacks. In March, Prof. Shmuel Shapira, head of the IIBR and the driving force behind the Israeli vaccine, surprisingly stepped down.
In addition, the approval of Pfizer’s vaccine last year and the Jewish state’s quick inoculation campaign, raised questions about whether a domestic vaccine is necessary, especially when it is unclear when it will be launched. The local vaccine effort was forced to stage trials abroad since most Israelis were already inoculated.
Despite the setbacks and delays, the domestic vaccine project continued.
Ironically, the emergence of new contagious variants like Delta, have given a new boost to the Israeli trial vaccine project. Since COVID is not going to disappear anytime soon, it has become clear that the vaccines do not offer life-time protection against the virus and that regular vaccinations will be needed.
Given the fact that the Israeli trial vaccine appears to be more effective for a longer time than international competitors such as Pfizer, BriLife could very well become an international pharmaceutical success in the future.
Israel’s Defense Ministry has stressed the importance of independent Israeli access to inoculations. Officials in Israel increasingly view the domestic vaccine as a backup plan to Pfizer and other vaccines that the Jewish state has bought from the international market.
On Saturday, Israel’s Health Ministry reported that out of a population of 9.3 million, more than 5.8 million Israelis have received one dose of the Pfizer injection. Almost 5.4 million have received a second dose and almost 1.4 million Israelis have received a third shot since Israel launched the booster drive in early August.
Israel says its initial results indicate that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine is needed to strengthen protection against infection and serious illness. The results compared individuals 60 and older to people who only received two shots. The booster shot is now available to everyone over the age of 40.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.