Photo Credit: Courtesy: MIGAL

Israel’s Migal Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) revealed Tuesday that fake ampoules of a Coronavirus vaccine carrying a forged label with the Institute’s logo in Hebrew are illegally being manufactured and circulated in several South American countries.

MIGAL updated the Foreign and Health Ministries on the issue and requested their immediate intervention, including the updating of the World Health Organization, the Health Ministries in the relevant countries as well as the Israeli embassies, regarding the forgery that could harm the public.

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The Foreign Ministry’s Economy Department conducted a swift investigation and traced one of the distributors to Ecuador, where it is selling the counterfeit ampoules on a large scale and at a cost of $380 per unit.

MIGAL is in the process of developing a novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

The Institute has previously developed a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus, a Coronavirus strain that causes bronchial disease affecting poultry.

The safety and effectiveness of the poultry vaccine has been proven in animal trials carried out at Israel’s Veterinary institute. MIGAL is using the methods learned from the existing vaccine to develop a new oral subunit human vaccine against COVID-19.

MIGAL recently established MigVax Corp. to develop the vaccine and received a $12 million financial boost from the Jerusalem-based OurCrowd, the world’s largest crowdfunding venture investment platform.

“The experiments we have carried out so far show that because the vaccine does not include the virus itself, it will be safe to use in immune-suppressed recipients, and has fewer chances of side effects,” explained Zigdon.

The vaccine uses “a protein vector that can form and secrete a chimeric soluble protein which carries the viral antigen into tissue and causes the production of antibodies against the virus by the immune system. We are now working to adjust our generic vaccine system to COVID-19,” he added.

Using a fermentation process, MigVax aims to have the material ready for clinical trials within a few months.

MIGAL is an internationally recognized and multi-disciplinary applied research institute that specializes in biotechnology and computer sciences, plant science, precision agriculture and environmental sciences as well as food, nutrition and health.

MIGAL is the largest regional R&D center of the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry in northern Israel, based in Kiryat Shemona, with 310 employees including 90 PhDs and 190 researchers.

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