Israel claims 'major breakthrough' in race to find COVID-19 vaccine
Country hails 'amazing achievement' in battle against coronavirus.
Israel claims to have completed the development phase of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the country's Defence Ministry.
A research lab in the Israeli city of Ness Ziona says they've identified a key antibody that attacks the virus and neutralises it.
The Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) is now looking to secure a contract with an international manufacturer for the commercial development of the vaccine.
"I am proud of the Biological Institute staff, who have made a major breakthrough," Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
"The Jewish creativity and ingenuity brought about this amazing achievement."
Mr Bennett said the "antibody attacks the virus in monoclonal way," which is seen as a more potent treatment, as it is derived from a single cell.
The IIBR has been testing blood from patients who've recovered from COVID-19. Samples from those who have beaten the disease are seen as the best possible hope of discovering a cure.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the breakthrough is a big step forward.
"Like all countries, Israel is now trying to find the right balance between protecting the health of our citizens by preventing another spike in infections, and enabling the reopening of our economy, but, ultimately, to ensure both the public health and national prosperity, we must all work together on improving diagnostics, accelerating therapies and ultimately developing a vaccine," he said.
"I am confident that Israel's leading research institutions, its world renowned scientists and our unique culture of innovation can enable us to play an important role in advancing solutions on all three fronts.
"We hope to work with other countries to leverage our unique capabilities to find solutions for the benefit of all."
Israel has had more than 16,000 cases of COVID-19, and more than 200 deaths.
The country's health minister was diagnosed with coronavirus last month, but has since recovered.
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