Israel Inks Deal With NRx Pharmaceuticals for COVID Vaccine Trials

Reuters
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An Israeli teen receives his COVID-19 jab, last month.
An Israeli teen receives his COVID-19 jab, last month. Credit: Hadas Parush
Reuters

Israel is partnering with U.S.-based NRx Pharmaceuticals to complete trials and commercialize the Israeli-developed COVID-19 vaccine BriLife.

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NRx and the Israel Institute for Biological Research on Monday announced a memorandum of understanding that includes the worldwide development, manufacturing and marketing rights of the vaccine, which in recent months has been undergoing early clinical trials in Israel.

The vaccine was developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research, which is overseen by the Defense Ministry.

Serious coronavirus cases in Israel over the last month.Credit: Israeli Health Ministry

"I anticipate that with this agreement, we will be able to complete the development of the vaccine and enable Israel to produce vaccines independently, because as we have seen recently – the coronavirus is not going anywhere," said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel reached an agreement with Pfizer on Saturday night to expedite the company's next shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, which will be delivered on August 1.

The rapid spread of the delta variant has sent vaccination rates in Israel back up as new infections have risen over the past month from single digits to around 450 a day, and the country has moved to fast-track its next Pfizer shipment.

Amid the uptick in infections, Israel also said on Sunday it will begin offering a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to adults with weak immune systems. However, a decision on wider distribution is still pending. 

Moreover, the panel of coronavirus experts advising the Health Ministry recommended on Sunday evening to vaccinate children under the age of 12 with preexisting medical conditions, or children living in a household where at least one person is at increased risk of serious illness.

In case a decision to inoculate the children is made, each case will require an approval by the Health Ministry.

Israel recorded 423 new coronavirus cases on Sunday; 47 are in serious condition. 0.8 percent of tests conducted returned positive.

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