An Israeli research team has developed an oral vaccine for COVID-19 that seems to be heading for testing, and could be distributed in a matter of months.
Chen Katz told The Times of Israel that the new oral vaccine for adults and children could “turn this disease into a very mild cold.” He said that for many people who are inoculated and then infected by COVID-19, “potentially it will not affect them at all.”
The rapid potential progress by the state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute stems from the fact that the institute has been working for four years toward a vaccine that could be customized for various viruses, and has now adapted that work to focus on the coronavirus, he said.Israeli-made oral vaccine for coronavirus on track, but testing will take months | The Times of Israel
What’s particularly exciting about this development is that the research team was able to adapt research they had been doing into a vaccine for a related virus for four years, into a potential vaccine for COVID-19.
[Dr Chen] Katz clarified that the 90-day time frame in the February 27 statement was until the product is ready for human testing, and said he still believes this is realistic. He said that skeptics should understand that his team is not working on new research, but rather customizing an existing innovation, meaning that a fast turnaround is realistic. He stated: “The important thing is that we were working on a vaccine, unrelated to this outbreak, and this is a great advantage.”
Update (2020-03-12): According to The Times of Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has announced that the vaccine isn’t quite as advanced as it seemed yesterday:
“There has been no breakthrough in the efforts of the Institute for Biological Research to find a vaccine for the coronavirus or to develop a testing kit. The institute’s activities are being carried out on an orderly schedule and they will take time,” said the ministry.Defense Ministry denies ‘breakthrough’ on vaccine for COVID-19 | The Times of Israel
Still, I’m encouraged, and optimistic.