Israel said expected to ink deal with US firm developing COVID-19 vaccine
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Israel said expected to ink deal with US firm developing COVID-19 vaccine

TV reports country to buy four million units of drug made by Arcturus Therapeutics and Singapore’s Duke-NUS medical school, recently granted permission to begin clinical trials

A syringe injects an illustrated representation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Paris, on May 18, 2020. (JOEL SAGET/AFP)
A syringe injects an illustrated representation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Paris, on May 18, 2020. (JOEL SAGET/AFP)

Israel is expected to ink a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars with a US firm developing a coronavirus vaccine, Channel 12 news reported Thursday.

The Health Ministry refused to comment on the reported talks with Arcturus Therapeutics, which earlier this week reached an agreement to begin clinical trials on humans in Singapore for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The report, which did not cite any sources, said the deal to purchase four million vaccines will only go through if the upcoming rounds of testing are successful.

Arcturus Therapeutics and Duke-NUS medical school, a collaboration between Duke University and the National University of Singapore, announced Tuesday that clinical trials were approved in Singapore for their LUNAR-COV19 vaccine candidate.

Testing will begin on up to 108 adults “as soon as possible,” the partnership said in a statement.

“The approval of the Clinical Trial Application for LUNAR-COV19 is a critical milestone for Arcturus,” said Joseph Payne, President and CEO of Arcturus.

The product “may facilitate the mass vaccine campaigns necessary to target hundreds of millions of individuals globally,” he said.

“Preclinical studies on LUNAR-COV19 have shown very promising findings, including the possibility that a single dose of this vaccine may be sufficient to trigger robust and durable immune responses, said Professor Ooi Eng Eong, Deputy Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS in the statement.

Last month Israel signed a deal with US biotech firm Moderna for the potential purchase of its coronavirus vaccine if it ends up proving effective, Hebrew-language media reported.

The company announced in June that it will enter the third and final stage of its clinical trial in July with 30,000 participants.

Moderna’s vaccine effort is a global frontrunner, alongside a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca, which has also launched a large-scale trial on 10,000 volunteers and expects results by September.

Because of the desperate need for a vaccine amid the pandemic that has killed more than 624,000 people worldwide, drug companies are scaling up manufacturing with human trials still underway.

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