Hadassah Director-General Prof. Zeev Rotstein has called on Defense Minister Benny Gantz to allow Israelis who participated in the trial of the Israeli coronavirus vaccine to receive a green passport.
"I address you first and foremost as a proud Israeli, who has contributed and continues to contribute to the country, who at the moment feels deprived and ostracized in a way that shames my country," Rotstein said in a letter sent to Gantz on Tuesday. "I do not want to elaborate on the feeling I may have next week when I accompany my wife to a concert, and I will have to stay outside – and/or I will return with her from abroad and I will navigate to a [coronavirus] hotel and she will be exempt from isolation."
Israel’s vaccine candidate, Brilife, was developed by the Israel Institute of Biological Research, which operates under the Defense Ministry. Phase I of the trial was completed in late November 2020. Some 80 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 were inoculated at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem and Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. No significant side effects were reported.
Rotstein, who received the Israeli vaccine, called for Gantz to work immediately to fix the issue and allow vaccine testers to receive the passport, "because if the situation is not rectified immediately, even as early as this week before the economy opens on Sunday, not only will we lose the whole issue of volunteering in the country, but it will also indirectly end dawning of the blue-and-white vaccine development and production project that the prime minister is currently promoting."
A green passport is required to enter certain places and to participate in certain activities. Only people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus are eligible for one.
Registered gyms, theaters, hotels, concerts and synagogues are currently operating with the passport; starting on Sunday, restaurants, cafes, event halls, conferences and attractions will be able to operate with the passport as well.
The clinical trial of the Israeli coronavirus vaccine is nearing the end of its Phase II trial, Rotstein said in the letter.
Some 350 potential volunteers have registered for Phase II of the trial which will include 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 and over, as well as senior citizens. The aim of this phase is to complete vaccine safety precautions, determine effective dosages and further determine the vaccine’s effectiveness.
If the Phase II trial is successful, it will enable the launch of a large-scale Phase III trial to test the effectiveness of the vaccine with the participation of up to 30,000 volunteers in Israel and abroad. Phase III is the final one required to achieve approval for vaccination.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.