Israel heralds new breakthrough with ‘antibodies that neutralise’ Covid-19

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Israel heralds new breakthrough with ‘antibodies that neutralise’ Covid-19

Defence minister announces 'big news' in the bid to treat coronavirus, describing it as 'Israel’s Manhattan Project'

Naftali Bennet. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
Naftali Bennet. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Israel’s defence minister has hailed the country’s “second breakthrough” against Covid-19 after scientists at a secret military bio-lab identified “three more antibodies that neutralise” the novel coronavirus.

In a series of tweets on Thursday afternoon, Naftali Bennett heralded “big news” at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) for the second time this week, after earlier saying it had developed an antibody but without giving much detail.

“This is beyond the first antibody which we already announced,” he wrote, describing the task to defeat Covid-19 as “Israel’s Manhattan Project,” in reference to America’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb during the Second World War.

Bennett said the antibodies had been selected from Covid-19 patients and said they “specifically bind to distinct elements of the aggressive coronavirus”. He added that the lab “has demonstrated the ability of each of the antibodies to neutralise the living coronavirus,” meaning to block the virus from entering cells.

“Based on comprehensive scientific publications from around the globe, it appears that the IIBR is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all three of these parameters,” he wrote, praising the researchers as “smart, creative and vigorous… who love their work and care deeply about Israel’s security”.

Bennett said the lab was currently seeking patents before approaching manufacturers but felt that the progress made by the IIBR “could lead to a shortening of the process” of finding a safe and effective vaccine against the virus.

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