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Israel began clinical trials of a novel coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, authorities said, as the government lifted a second lockdown to contain high-flying infections.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Netanyahu hired the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) to develop a vaccine against the virus.

Two volunteers, one in Sheba and one at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, received the vaccine on Sunday.

One of the two 34-year-old Aner Ottolenghi encouraged as many healthy people as possible to volunteer, according to a Hadassah statement.

Israel will initially test the vaccine on 80 people before expanding it to 980 in the second phase and 25,000 in the final phase, slated for April or May.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Israeli study is one of around 40 “vaccine candidates” that are being tested worldwide.

Ten are at the most advanced stage, where effectiveness is being measured on a large scale on tens of thousands of volunteers.

The start of the trial in Israel coincided with a reduction in lockdown restrictions.

After peaking at more than 10,000 cases per day in September – at the time the highest per capita infection rate in the world – the number of cases in Israel has fallen below a thousand per day, according to official figures.

COVID-19 has killed over 2,541 people out of a total of 314,000 confirmed cases in Israel, official figures show.

Elementary school children were allowed to return to class on Sunday.

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© 2020 AFP

Quote: Israel begins coronavirus vaccine trials (2020, November 1), retrieved from on November 1, 2020

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