Israeli epidemiologist warns against 'very risky' acceleration of coronavirus vaccine

Dr Manfred Green warns the process 'takes years, not days or months'



Trying to speed up finding a Coronavirus vaccine could be “very risky,” a former doctor with Israel’s Health Ministry has warned.

Dr Manfred Green, director of the University of Haifa’s international master’s course in public health, said developing a vaccine that could treat the virus could take up to 18 months to reach the general public.

“It takes years, not days or months,” said the founding director of the Israel Centre for Disease Control of the process to develop the vaccine.

“There are new technologies now that we hope will speed up the process.

“If it’s a new technology, not just a new vaccine, we don’t know much about it and we need to learn about it. That would require more extensive testing.”

He added: “If a vaccine is developed in the next few months, you can imagine if there were a one in 1,000 or one in 10,000 adverse reaction. That could be very problematic if you’re giving it to millions of people.”

Dr Green dismissed reports that Israeli scientists were on the verge of a breakthrough.

He said: “Israel needs to be modest, make sure that we are involved… the United States, China and Europe have advanced infrastructure and talented scientists working at this.

“It’s a joint effort. We need international cooperation.”

Two weeks ago Israel’s Science Ministry hinted that a state-funded institute’s vaccine could be three months away.

But Dr Green said both the public and researchers have underestimated the complex processes around the science of vaccines.

“People know we have vaccines, but don’t know how they are developed,” he said. “They think you go to a lab and a month later have a vaccine but it’s not like that. It’s a naive view.”

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