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Israeli scientists ‘close’ to developing Covid-19 vaccine, but no announcement or release yet

“Israel ‘Announces Cures’ For Coronavirus, Releases Vaccine,” reads the headline of an article on the site Current News Now. 

The article, dated 29 February 2020, says this is the “first vaccine to combat the coronavirus, which originated in China”. The date and description strongly suggest it is referring to the new coronavirus identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, which causes the disease Covid-19.

The article has been shared on Facebook in Nigeria, as has a similar article on the site How Africa News. 

By 4 March 2020 Covid-19 had caused the deaths of 3,198 people worldwide, most of them in China. Has a vaccine to stop the disease been created? We investigated. 

Developments announced, no finalised vaccine

Israeli research organisation Migal announced on 27 February it had “developed an effective vaccine against avian coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV)”. 

This virus infects birds, and is just one strain of coronavirus. It’s not the same as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19

Covid-19 has dominated international news headlines since it began spreading from China to other countries, and was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization in late January.

The Migal researchers said the IBV vaccine they had developed could be adapted to vaccinate against the human strain of coronavirus that causes Covid-19. This type of coronavirus is called “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”, or SARS-CoV-2.

Migal said this process will greatly speed up the development of a vaccine for Covid-19, but one does not exist yet.

David Zigdon, chief executive of Migal, said on 27 February: “Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next eight to 10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days.”

Misleading headlines

The Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post reported on the Migal vaccine, and this appears to be the source for the articles published on Current News Now and How Africa News. 

The Jerusalem Post stressed that the vaccine “will take at least 90 days to complete the regulatory process and potentially more to enter the marketplace”. 

The headlines of the articles shared on Facebook say a human vaccine already exists, and has been released to the public. This is misleading. – Keegan Leech


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