The meaning of life; Fitch gives Israel an A+; Young Israelis volunteer in droves; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Another potential coronavirus treatment
Israeli biotech Redhill has announced that another of its pipeline medicines RHB-107 (upamostat) is to be tested by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Redhill’s Opaganib is already saving lives.)
US patent for coronavirus vaccine
Tel Aviv University Professor Jonathan Gershoni has been granted a US patent for technology to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The vaccine targets the coronavirus’s Achilles’ heel, its Receptor Binding Motif (RBM), which the virus uses to bind to and infect a target cell.
Giving coronavirus patients a LIFT
Scientists from Israel’s Technion Institute have developed Liquid Foam Therapy (LIFT). It improves the distribution across the lungs of surfactant, the liquid that coats the surface of alveoli in the lungs,. COVID-19 kills the cells that secrete surfactant, making it harder to breathe.
Protecting intubated patients
Israel’s Hospitech produces the AnapnoGuard (reported here previously) which seals the trachea of intubated patients and protects them against Ventilator Associated Pneumonia. It was in use in China before the coronavirus outbreak and is now in use in 5 Israeli hospitals.
Recovered from Covid-19
A 45-year-old coronavirus patient at Jerusalem’s Wolfson hospital woke up from a 29-day coma. A 22-year-old regained consciousness after a three-week coma. A 94-year-old Jerusalem woman has recovered from Covid-19. And Eli Beer, CEO of United Hatzalah returned home to Israel after his recovery.
Successful caesarian birth
A seriously ill corona patient, 32-week’s pregnant and on ventilation, gave birth to a healthy 5.2lb baby via cesarean section in the isolation ward at Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat (Safed).
The first new antibiotic in 3 decades
Israel’s Regina Barzilay co-led an MIT team that used artificial intelligence to discover Halicin – the first entirely new antibiotic molecule in 30 years. It kills two of the most dangerous and durable bacteria which (unlike with other antibiotics) were unable to develop resistance to it.
The meaning of life
As the cell’s protein factory, the ribosome is the only natural machine that manufactures its own parts and is key to explaining how life develops. Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute are now able to demonstrate the self-synthesis and assembly of the small subunit of a ribosome on a surface of a chip.
National breastmilk bank saves preemie
A premature infant at Haifa’s Carmel Medical Center became the first baby to receive donated milk from Magen David Adom’s new national milk bank. The baby was unable to digest formula milk and his mother was unable to nurse him. The baby is now doing well and gaining weight.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
4 faiths combine for prayer
The leaders of the four leading religions in Israel – Judaism, Islam, Christianity and the Druze faith – convened in Jerusalem for an unprecedented communal interfaith prayer for the end of the corona epidemic. Following the prayer, the leaders each offered their personal thoughts.
Israeli-Arab doctor makes coronavirus educational cartoons
Dr. Momen Abbasi, a resident of internal medicine at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital, illustrates the fight against corona using his skills as a cartoon artist. The cartoons serve as a useful educational tool and producing them helps reduce Dr Abbasi’s stress level.
Israeli-Arab praise for Israeli pandemic support
Professor Fahed Hakim, medical director of Nazareth Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Arab sector, praised Israel’s Health Ministry for funding 3 coronavirus wards. He also thanked The IDF for providing ventilators and other equipment.
Huge change in Arab-Israeli perception
The Jewish People Policy Institute’s (JPPI) 2020 survey of Israel’s minorities finds that 23% define themselves as primarily “Israeli” (5% in 2019). 65% agreed with the phrase “I feel like a real Israeli” and 33% somewhat agreed.
Arab-Israeli MK honors Holocaust victims
History was made on Yom HaShoah when Member of Knesset Mansour Abbas, who heads the religious United Arab List party eulogized victims of the Holocaust at the Knesset. He also recited a prayer from the Quran in memory of those killed in the Holocaust.
Advanced testing machine for Gaza hospital
The IDF has delivered an advanced PCR medical device used for the detection of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Gaza strip. It will be used at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, doubling the current rate of Corona tests in Gaza.
Free training in lung ultrasounds
Israel-based Simbionix has launched a special project to train medical staff worldwide for free in performing and analyzing lung ultrasounds. Lung-ultrasound has proven to be one of the key factors in the effective diagnosis of people infected with the coronavirus. https://simbionix.com/
An Earth Day like no other
Some of the wildest scenes have been circulating on the Internet on World Earth Day 22nd Apr 2020. They include wild boar roaming the streets of Haifa, jackals in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, foxes in Ashkelon and on Highway 1. And ibex still wander around Eilat.
Italian startups complete Eilat accelerator
The first seven Italian startups in Eilat’s Acceleration program (see here) have just graduated. They are now negotiating deals valued at NIS 40 million, mostly with Israeli institutions and companies, including health institutions, industrial and real estate companies.
World English Language Day
Although Israel is proud to have resurrected the Hebrew language, there are many English words that are used by Israelis in everyday speech. This video gives a few examples.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
COVID-19 decision support for doctors
Israeli startup Kahun uses Artificial Intelligence to retrieve vital data for medical professionals on the coronavirus. Kahun’s algorithm mimics the diagnosis process in searching over 2,500 research papers to help physicians make fast vital decisions. Also open to the public. https://kahun.com/
Glass chamber to see coronavirus patients
Steve Walz, international spokesperson, Sheba Medical Center spoke on ILTV about Sheba’s solution for enabling interaction between covid-19 victims and their families.
Filtering out the virus
Israel’s Aura Smart Air (reported here previously) has launched a test of its air purification system at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. Aura Air is in the final approval stage for European Union funding. The EU is seeking solutions for closed-space infections, with a special emphasis on the coronavirus.
Self-sterilizing air filters
Scientists at Ben-Gurion University are developing a new type of air-filter that self-sterilizes and decontaminates. The nanotechnology is based on laser-induced graphene (LIG) water filters that eliminate viruses and bacteria in water. Potential applications include face masks and ventilation systems.
Disinfectant from tap water kills coronavirus
Researchers at Bar-Ilan University have developed powerful and environmentally friendly disinfectants using just tap water. They used electrolysis to bind chlorine hydrogen and oxygen – producing hypo chloric acid. In tests it killed microbes, fungi and corona-type viruses.
Radar to detect coronavirus carriers
Israel Aerospace Industries and Israel’s Elbit Systems have converted radar and electro-optic (camera) sensors into high-sensitivity sensors. These can measure pulse, temperature, and respiratory rate, to indicate a likely coronavirus infection.
Thermal cameras check for infection
Israeli startup Iron-Drone has developed ThermoGate to test the temperature of people entering shops and workplaces as per Israeli government regulations. Meanwhile Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has built and installed its own temperature checkers at two Israeli hospitals.
Home coronavirus test
Researchers from Israel’s Technion Institute have developed a process that they say can be made into a simple, inexpensive, fast and accurate home test for the coronavirus. Dip a swab of saliva into a test tube of chemical reagents and then into hot water. If the reagent color changes, the saliva is infected.
Millions of 3D-printed swabs for US
In response to the pressing need for more COVID-19 testing, Israel’s Stratasys and Origin of the US have signed an agreement in which Stratasys will market and promote Origin 3D-printed nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs to healthcare providers and other testing centers in the U.S.
Israel’s Tikkun Olam (“Healing the World”) Makers or TOM (see previous) has built a platform called Rapid Response Makers (RRM). Medical professionals and developers all over the world are encouraged to design and build medical infrastructure, products, and software to help fight the pandemic.
Drones pollinate date plantations
The coronavirus pandemic put Israel’s date industry at risk due to shortage of labor to pollinate trees between February and April. Israel’s Blue White Robotics (see here) is now deploying drones to pollinate date plantations in Israel’s Arava region and the Jordan Valley.
An Artificial Reality studio in your pocket
Israeli startup Arti provides simple, inexpensive software for media professionals to develop Augmented Reality videos. With just a smartphone, a laptop and an internet they can make AR videos containing 2D and 3D objects, movies etc. Arti has just raised $4 million of funds.
Waze rolls out new features
With a 70% decline in road traffic, Israeli-founded mobile navigation app developer Waze has turned to building new features that help users during the coronavirus pandemic. One can identify locations with “drive-thru” and “curbside pickup”, for safe access to food and essentials.
New Digital Health Tech Innovation Lab
The Israel Innovation Authority is launching a new tech innovation lab with NIS 32 million of funding to promote investments in the field of digital health. Companies have been invited to help operate the lab and assist Israel in the diagnosis and treatment of the coronavirus pandemic.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Fitch gives Israel an A+
Amazingly, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Israel’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) at ‘A+’ with a stable outlook. It highlights strong external finances, a diversified high value-added economy and solid institutional strength. It projects a rebound in 2021, with GDP growing by 5%.
Airlines renew Israel flights
Good news for Israeli nationals. British Airways and Wizz are shortly resuming their London to Tel Aviv flights. Air Canada is restarting from Toronto and Montreal and Delta is resuming from New York. United Airlines is upgrading its New York service and restarting from San Francisco.
IKEA re-opens 3 Israeli stores
Multinational retailer IKEA has re-opened its stores in Netanya, Tel Aviv Port and Rishon LeZion as part of Israel’s slow return to normality. IKEA will observe the latest Ministry of Health regulations, including social distancing, wearing of masks, maintaining hygiene and frequent cleaning.
Israeli schools to re-open
Israeli school admin staff are returning to work in advance of schools reopening. They will be subject to Health Ministry guidelines. It is a major step towards allowing parents to return to work. Special education classes have already reopened.
A thousand ventilators for Europe
Israel’s BATM is already busy producing COVID-19 testing kits (reported here previously). Now, it has received a $31 million order from an unnamed European country, for 1000 ventilators to be delivered between June and September.
El Al transports medical equipment from China to Italy
El Al’s cargo department has signed a deal to operate 150 cargo flights from China to Italy, carrying medical equipment to help battle coronavirus. El Al will operate two flights daily between April and October using converted 777 planes and Dreamliners.
Israel’s response to COVID-19
Israeli global investment platform Ourcrowd held a webinar on how Israel’s Government, healthcare and technology startups are combating the coronavirus. It featured PulmOne, SightDX and MigVax. Some 1000 medical, media and investment professionals attended. And me. See the slides here.
Israeli vaccine gains support
Israel’s Migal Galilee Research Institute is now MigVax Corp and has just received $12 million of funds, led by Ourcrowd. MigVax’s is developing a safe, oral vaccine with 3 levels of protection. It will be easy to scale up and can be adjusted for other coronavirus strains.
Emergency funds for cash-strapped startups
The Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA), the government’s tech investment arm, is making available NIS 500 million for Israeli startups that have a good chance of succeeding in the long run, but are currently suffering from a shortage in funding and need immediate investment.
More investment in Israeli startups
This week Israeli startups InnovoPro raised $15 million, Granulate raised $12 million, Orchestra raised $7.5 million, MyndYou raised $4 million, Arti raised $4 million, and Gauzy raised some $10 million.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Independence Day – Technion
Even in our homes, we can still celebrate Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut) on Weds 29th April. The Technion UK’s event (1pm UK time) includes live top musicians and the musical comedy movie “West Bank Story”. All proceeds will support research into a coronavirus vaccine.
Independence Day – JNF
For those in the USA for whom the Technion UK’s event is too early, the JNF’s celebration event for Yom Haatzmaut is at 2pm Eastern Time. It is in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America.
THE JEWISH STATE
Young Israelis volunteer in droves
Lev Echad (One Heart) is an Israeli NGO that activates whenever there’s a crisis. It currently has thousands of young adults providing childcare for staff at 16 medical centers, shopping for quarantined and elderly citizens and standing in for charities that have had to close their services.
Innovating Holocaust education
To mark Yom HaShoah, the University of Haifa’s Weiss-Livnat Innovation Hub for Holocaust Education and Commemoration has launched a one-year post-graduate program. Its aim is to encourage students to create an innovative project that educates the public about the Holocaust.
IDF protects Holocaust survivors
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Yom HaShoah, “The current reality (corona) does not allow us to meet with the survivors, to support them and be inspired by them. At this time, our mission is to protect them.”
A coronavirus lab wedding
Israeli laboratory workers Orit Zamir and Peter Katchker were going to postpone their wedding because of the coronavirus. However, the health of Orit’s mother deteriorated, and they contacted MDA’s “wishing ambulance” who brought her mother to attend a small but happy wedding ceremony.
Volunteers 3D-print visors for medics
Hundreds of Israeli volunteers from an online community called COVID-19 Open Source are using their own 3D printers to produce protective visors for healthcare workers. Other volunteers take the equipment direct to needy hospital departments across the country.
100th anniversary of San Remo
On 25th Apr 1920, the San Remo Conference of the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers signed the treaty that established the international right of the Jewish people to a national home. It was enshrined in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate and the 1945 UN Charter.
– live broadcast from Jerusalem on Sunday 26 April at 15.00 CET 14:00 GMT www.sanremo100.org
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