The CEO of California-based Arcturus told The Jerusalem Post that the company would consider running at least part of its Phase III clinical trial in the Jewish state.
“No doubt we are considering doing a registrational study in Israel if the Health Ministry would help us and support us – then, of course, we would be willing to look at Israel as an opportunity,” Arcturus president and CEO Joseph Payne said Monday morning.
Over the weekend, the Health Ministry announced it had signed the first part of an agreement with California-based Arcturus to have first access to its novel coronavirus vaccine.
Payne said that the timing of the Phase 3 study is still unknown, as the company is just now kicking off a Phase 1/2 clinical trial through Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School to test the safety, side effects and best dose of the new vaccine.
Payne said he is hopeful that this study would be complete in the next few months.
He noted that Israel could be a prime candidate for human trials because of its high number of coronavirus patients, though it is possible the situation could look different by the time Arcturus is ready to move forward. Payne said the study needs to take place in a country where there is a substantial amount of COVID-19 to help prove the efficacy of the vaccine faster.
“If there is a second or third wave ongoing in Israel, then it would make sense to have the opportunity to do it,” he said. “But we are also looking to grow our relationship with the Health Ministry, and we want to honor and respect their demands, interests and desires. So, if it makes sense to do the trial outside of Israel, of course, we will... We are very pleased to support Israel’s vaccination strategy.”
Payne could not disclose which, but he said the company is in negotiations with other countries to pre-sell the vaccine, as well.
The big differentiator between Arcturus and other vaccines that are in development is that it potentially requires only one dose because of its replicating effect. Most others (including the one being tested by Moderna) require two doses, an initial injection and a booster shot.
Last month, Israel signed a deal to buy a supply of Moderna’s hopeful COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273.