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False claim: Coronavirus vaccine approved in Israel, set for mass production and distribution

An image circulated on social media makes the claim that a vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19) has been approved in Israel ( here ) The image, posted on Facebook on March 14, 2020, makes the further claim that the vaccine is already being mass produced and should soon be available in the U.S. for distribution.

“A vaccine for CoronaVirus has just been approved in Israel. It is being produced in hundreds of thousands as we speak and expected to be in the US within 14 days!”

ISRAELI DEVELOPMENTS

It is true that scientists at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research—a civilian organization formerly under the Defense Ministry—are soon expected to announce the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, but this process might require many months of trials and experiments before it is deemed safe and effective, as reported by Haaretz ( here ). Manfred Green, a former vaccine evaluator for Israel’s Health Ministry warned that a proper vaccine development process could take up to 18 months. Green told The Times of Israel, that it could be “very risky” to rush this process, ( here ).

Last month, the state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute also announced a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus( rb.gy/3rdzow ). Their rapid progress was credited to four years of previous research focused on the development of a vaccine effective against an avian coronavirus affecting poultry that could be adapted to counter other viruses, including COVID-19. In March, the research team leader clarified that the 90-day time frame mentioned in their statement referred to the point at which the product would be ready for human-testing, not production ( here ).

It is therefore false that a coronavirus vaccine approved in Israel is already being produced at a mass scale. It is much less possible that this vaccine could be expected for distribution in the U.S. within two weeks, as stated in text of the image circulated on social media. 

A GLOBAL RACE

In the U.S., a coronavirus vaccine trial has given a dose to its first participant(here ). The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted in the Kaiser Permanente Health Research Institute in Seattle is currently testing whether the vaccine is safe for human use. Participants will receive two doses 28 days apart and be monitored for a year after the second shot.

In China, researchers at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences recently received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine starting this week, as reported by state media ( here ).

U.S. drug maker Pfizer has meanwhile signed a deal with Germany's BioNTech to co-develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. The two companies will start the collaboration immediately and have signed a letter of intent for the vaccine's distribution outside of China. The companies said they will finalize financial terms, and details regarding development, manufacturing and potential commercialization of the vaccine over the next few weeks ( here ).

According to the (World Health Organization) WHO, there is still currently no specific medicine recommended to help prevent or treat the new coronavirus( here ).

The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected nearly 179,000 people globally and killed more than 7,000. Several countries have imposed bans on mass gatherings such as sporting, cultural and religious events to combat the disease.

Experts at the WHO say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year, ( here ).

VERDICT

False: while Israeli scientists are working on developing a vaccine for COVID-19, such a vaccine is not yet approved, is not already in mass production and will not be arriving in the U.S. within a fortnight

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .

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