The small southern town of Yeruham has big plans to open Israel’s first vaccine production facility, in partnership with the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) and one of two prospective international pharmaceutical companies, according to a spokesperson for the Yeruham local council.
The Monday night announcement came after a meeting Sunday between the heads of the IIBR, Yeruham local council and the CEO of an international pharmaceutical company. A model was presented that would allow for the quick establishment of such a facility, if approved by the Israeli government. The announcement came on the heels of what Defense Minister Naftali Bennett called a :major breakthrough” by IIBR in the development of a COVID-19 antibody that attacks the virus and neutralizes it, marking the end of the development phase for the passive vaccine of the virus.
In 2016, Israel’s government adopted decision 120B, which ordered the establishment of a vaccine plant as a strategic asset for the State of Israel in the event of a pandemic, after a decade of discussions on the matter. However, negotiations on the matter had stalled since the decision was made and no working models had been agreed upon until Monday’s announcement.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, IIBR was tasked with finding a vaccine for the virus. Last month, it announced that it had begun testing
its antibody-based vaccine prototype on rodents.
According to the model, tens of millions of vaccine units, of various types, will be manufactured in Yeruham, which will ensure Israeli self-sufficiency during both regular routine and in cases of pandemics.
While the Yeruham local council plans to provide infrastructure and manpower and IIBR provides the research aspect of the deal, the model still relies on an undecided third partner for international operations, marketing and distribution purposes.
Negotiations are currently underway with two of the world’s largest international pharmaceutical companies, one from India and the other from the United States. At the same time, in the coming days, they will turn to the Bill and Melinda Gates Fund, which aims to set up vaccination facilities around the world to help find a vaccine for COVID-19.