U.S. biotech firm: Human trials for COVID-19 vaccine could be held in Israel

The CEO of a U.S. biotech firm with which Israel has reportedly signed a non-binding agreement for the provision of a COVID-19 vaccine said on Sunday that Phase III clinical trials for the vaccine could be conducted in the Jewish state.

Under the terms of the deal, which is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Israel will purchase four million doses of Arcturus Therapeutics’ LUNAR-COV19 vaccine candidate, which was approved for Phase I/II clinical trials in Singapore just last week, according to a report in Israel’s Channel 12. The deal will only go through if the upcoming rounds of testing are successful, according to the report.

“My understanding is that Israel is under some significant challenges with respect to the prevalence of COVID, and it would present an opportunity to perhaps do the registration study in Israel, combining that data with other countries as well,” said Arcturus CEO Joseph Payne.

“It’s key that you have the study in a place where there’s a substantial amount of COVID present so that you can more quickly prove your vaccine works,” he added.

According to Payne, Israel selected his firm’s LUNAR-COV19 candidate because it offered “significant” safety advantages over other candidates.

“The reason Israel’s scientific team chose our vaccine is because it is a very low dose and it is possible to administer it a single time. Both of these benefits give patients a significant safety advantage,” he said.

This is the second agreement that Israel has signed to purchase a vaccine, after signing last month with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech firm Moderna.

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