5 million vaccinated; Transforming ophthalmic surgery; Reaching remote communities; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
5 million vaccinated
Israel’s five millionth recipient of the Covid-19 vaccine was a pregnant 34-year-old from the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, Restaurants, cafes, attractions, hotels, event venues, places of worship, most school grades 7-10, and more, have opened. Only 3% of serious Covid-19 cases had received a 2nd shot.
Learning from our mistakes
One of Israel’s Health Medical Organizations (HMOs) accidentally used a half-sized needle to apply the first Pfizer vaccine into 1,000 Israelis. But when 60% of them were tested three weeks later, they were all found to have high levels of antibodies. The US CDC was pleased to hear the outcome.
SARS-Cov-2 treatment subsidiary
Israeli biotech Pepticom (reported here previously) has raised $2.6 million to establish a company that can treat SARS-Cov-2 and its mutations. It will implement AI technology to design, discover and develop novel peptide molecules.
Helping Covid patients to breathe
Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is partnering Israel’s Inspira Technologies in trials of its new respiratory treatment for Covid-19 patients suffering from acute breathing difficulties. The Augmented Respiration Treatment (ART) directly oxygenates blood while the patient remains conscious.
A natural treatment for Covid?
IDC Herzliya researchers at Israel’s MIGAL laboratory, with Icelandic scientists, have identified that spirulina algae can reduce the cytokine storm that kills Covid-19 patients. The algae was supplied by Israel’s VAXA (Iceland based) who have EU funding to find natural cures for Covid-19.
Breakthrough in protein synthesis
Arab-Israeli Professor Ashraf Brik (see here previously) of Israel’s Technion and his team have overcome a 60-year technical problem to synthesize plectasin, a peptide with promising antibiotic results against multi-resistant bacteria, and linaclotide, to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
New way to diagnose neurological conditions
Scientists at Ben Gurion University have confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke from electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns. Analysis of changes in brain blood vessel pathology can provide fast diagnosis of those conditions.
Eliminating animal testing
Hebrew University researchers have developed a chip containing human tissue with microscopic sensors to precisely monitor the response of the kidney, liver and heart to specific treatments. It is believed to be the first treatment to be submitted to the US FDA for human trials without animal testing.
Fast glaucoma treatment in trials
Israel’s Belkin Laser (reported here previously) is conducting a large-scale clinical study of its Eagle laser glaucoma treatment in Europe and Israel. Patients at more than 10 sites are testing the computer-guided device that uses healing lasers far less intrusively than currently approved devices.
Transforming ophthalmic surgery
Israeli startup ForSight Robotics is developing a microsurgical robotic platform for eye surgery. The platform will exceed human surgical capabilities with unprecedented dexterity and maneuverability to within only a few microns.
Minimally invasive hysterectomies
Some 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the US. The US FDA has just approved the Hominis Surgical System, developed by Israel’s Memic. The surgeon operates using the Robotically Assisted Surgical Device (RASD) via tiny incisions in the patient’s body.
Israeli women saving lives
Four women from Israel’s diverse, inclusive society enthusiastically speak about their life-saving work as volunteer paramedics with Israeli emergency service United Hatzalah.
Ask me anything
Tel Aviv University Professor Neta Erez made the unusual offer on Reddit.com to answer any questions in one day, about her specialty of cancer research. She answered 61 tough questions.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Helping Israeli women get technology jobs
“AI for Women” is a project set up by Bella Abrahams, director at Intel Israel. It uses artificial intelligence tools to analyze and group career advice. A vital resource to help Israeli women launch or boost their tech career and get better paid employment. In Hebrew only.
The women that harvest the land
This article highlights some of Israel’s female agricultural pioneers, plus those that currently grow vegetables, milk cows and make artisanal olive oil, cheese and wine.
Giving back to their communities
Former Vogue cover model Israel’s Michaela Bercu helped develop the app Tribu to optimize the world of volunteering. The App matches 800,000+ Israelis with hundreds of local projects all over Israel on days and hours that are convenient for each volunteer.
National library exhibit of Bedouin culture
The National Library of Israel is displaying the Clinton Bailey Archive of Arab Bedouin Culture. It includes 350 hours of interviews, digitized in English, Arabic and Hebrew, plus hundreds of images, slides and video clips documenting Bedouin tribal culture over the past half-century.
Vaccine rollout to Palestinian Arab workers
Israel’s vaccination program was successfully trialed last week by 700 grateful Palestinian Arab workers. The program will now be rolled out to the 87,000 PA Arabs with Israeli work permits, plus another 35,000 that work for Israelis in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli-Arab social hackathon
Tel Aviv non-profit “Israel-Is” is co-sponsoring the first Abraham Accords Virtual Social Hackathon to be held March 23-25. 25 mixed teams of four, each from Israel, Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE, will develop social products focusing on peacebuilding at a societal and grassroots level.
Helping Africa develop a vaccination strategy
Israeli charity IsraAID has launched the first of several missions to help African countries build their COVID-19 vaccination program. Seven IsraAID volunteers are in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) on invitation from the Eswatini government.
Medics to treat injured in Equatorial Guinea
An Israeli medical team has landed in Equatorial Guinea, following blasts at a military camp that killed over a hundred and injured more than 600. The team of 50 IDF medics and 10 civilians includes intensive care physicians, pediatricians and other specialists.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Microsoft Israel Ignites interest
At its annual Ignite Conference, Microsoft revealed many of the developments emanating from its Israeli R&D center. They include digital tools that integrate into Microsoft Teams; comprehensive organizational data snapshots and a Data Loss protection service.
New head of Israel’s IBM Research
IBM has announced that its new Director of the IBM Haifa Research Lab is Aya Soffer. She also continues in her role as IBM’s VP of AI. Soffer is one of the most influential people in Israeli tech because of her positive impact on the local and global AI ecosystem.
Out of this world
Israel’s Ramon.Space develops small, low-power, high-capacity space super-computers and systems. Their remotely programmable radiation-hardened microchips can withstand extreme temperatures and have been deployed in over 50 international missions, including to the Sun, Mars and Jupiter, with zero failures.
Reaching remote communities
Israel’s Spacecom (reported here previously) has partnered with Ignite Power, to provide remote telehealth and educational services across Africa, using its Amos-17 satellite. The platform can function as a “school” in the morning, a “clinic” in the afternoon, and as an “internet cafe” in the evening.
An electric train on wheels
The Israeli city of Ashdod is the first city outside China to test a new electric land train that could revolutionize the world of public transportation. The train can carry up to 500 passengers, and travel semi-autonomously, following road markings – the “driver” just controls the speed.
Foretellix partners Volvo for autonomous testing
Volvo Autonomous Solutions is partnering Israel’s Foretellix (reported here previously) to develop the testing of self-driving solutions that operate on public roads and in confined areas. The system will be adapted to test scenarios from highways to mines and quarries.
3D printing from dentistry to car parts
Israel’s Nexa3D prints dental accessories without lab work and multiple teeth molds. Nexa3D’s printers produce car parts, protective face shields, drones and more. Its clients include BMW, Subaru Lexmark, Motorola, Keystone, BASF and Siemens. TED talk from Nexa3D’s founder.
Your personal digital photo album
Israel’s Pomvom uses AI image recognition technology to enable event operators in the entertainment and attractions industry to offer guests the chance to capture images that would have previously been impossible. They can then view and order content from a personalized digital album.
An AI automated camera
Israel’s Pixellot has launched Air, an AI-automated camera co-developed with FC Barcelona. Portable and lightweight it provides performance analytics to players and coaches. 12 hours of play can be recorded and instantly uploaded without the need for a camera operator, electricity, or even Internet.
Next-gen video analytics
Israeli AI chipmaker Hailo (reported here previously) has partnered Amazon Web Services, Leopard Imaging and Socionext to launch EdgeTuring – a next-generation AI processing solution for video analytics. Applications include smart retail, smart devices, industrial automation, and more.
A safe shower
Israel’s Safe Shower has developed a shower head with a continuous disinfection unit that minimizes the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other bacteria-born diseases. Safe Shower’s device was chosen as one of 50 promising inventions in the 2020 Blue Tulip Awards.
A mini diaper washing machine
Some 258 billion used diapers are sent to landfills every year. Now Israel’s Alon Cohen has invented a cleaning and storing system for reusable diapers. PIKA doubles as a diaper bin and can wash and sanitize 1-10 diapers. No pre-cleaning or soaking necessary. Also provides a nutrition analysis.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Another rise in currency reserves
Israel’s reserves of foreign currency reached another record level at the end of February. The total of just over $185 billion was $5.59 billion more than the total at the end of January.
Israel’s robust tech ecosystem
The recent IVC report on the Israeli tech ecosystem from 2015 to 2020 reveals that Covid-19 hit the Startup Nation hard in the first half of 2020. But investments bounced back in the second half, so that 2020 investment in Israel exceeded 2019 by 31%. And the key reasons were very encouraging.
The skies begin re-opening
El Al’s 8th March flight from Tel Aviv to New York carried 280 passengers of which 168 were fully vaccinated. The others, mostly children under 16, took a rapid Covid-19 test developed by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center that gave the results 15-20 minutes later. Everyone passed the test.
The Next takeover
Just three months after acquiring Denver-based Juniper Labs, Israel’s Next Insurance is buying another US company – digital insurance agency AP Intego. The acquisition will double Next’s annual revenue to some $400 million, add 160 employees to its current 400 payroll and bring in 75,000 new customers.
Bringing cultured beef to Brazil
Aleph Farms (reported here previously) is partnering Brazil’s BRF, one of the largest meat producers in the world, to jointly develop cultivated meat and bring it to Brazilian tables. Livestock production causes high emissions of greenhouse gas, which Brazil must cut by 43% by 2030.
PayPal acquires Curv
PayPal is to acquire Israeli crypto security Curv (reported here previously) for nearly $200 million. Curv will join PayPal’s newly formed blockchain, crypto and digital currencies business unit.
Israel’s Aqua Security (reported here previously) has just raised $135 million at a market valuation of $1 billion. This makes it another Israeli company with the financial status of a “Unicorn”.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Snyk raised $300 million; Aqua Security raised $135 million; Optibus raised $107 million; Xsight Labs raised around $100 million; Massivit raised $50 million; Identiq raised $47 million; Ibex Medical raised $38 million; Demostack raised $13.3 million; Forsight Robotics raised $10 million; retrain.ai raised $9 million; Pepticom raised $2.6 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Take a zoom photo walk of Jerusalem
Contact Sharon to enjoy a guided tour on zoom of the lesser-known Jerusalem sites in the comfort of your home. Available for family groups of up to 10 people. Plus, you can see venues and hear about events not usually open to the public. Choose History, Nature or Tailored.
http://rjstreets.com/jerusalem-photo-walks/ Contact [email protected]
Israel Women Museum
Later this year, curator, art historian and TV producer Yael Nitzan plans to open Israel’s first museum dedicated to women in a former Haifa private school building. It will showcase at least 100 women who played – and continue to play – important roles in the history and culture of Israel.
Top culinary destination
Prestigious American magazine Food and Travel chose Tel Aviv in its six most recommended culinary destinations around the globe. It said, “The difference between Tel Aviv and the other cities is the seriousness and depth with which the chefs treat the dishes and the richness of the local flavors.”
International Jazz award
Israeli trumpeter Itamar Borochov’s blend of Mideast-North African & classic jazz has won him a 2020 LetterOne Rising Stars Jazz Award, ahead of 700+ candidates. When festivals resume, he will receive the services of a professional team to arrange his appearance at seven top international jazz events.
Israeli joins NBA Rising Stars World Team
The US National Basketball Association has selected the Washington Wizards’ Israeli rookie forward Deni Avdija (reported here previously) to the 2020-21 NBA Rising Stars World Team roster.
THE JEWISH STATE
Honoring the builder
The late American philanthropist Dr Irving Moskowitz was responsible for hundreds of projects to return Jewish life to Israel’s capital city. He also established the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. The Jerusalem municipality is naming a city square after him in the Ma’aleh Zeitim neighborhood of Jerusalem.
We are family
Twins Gili and Nadav Dekel have just together completed the commander’s course in the IDF Artillery Corps. Twins Ben and Tom Sorer also completed the course together. Ben and Tom’s parents both served in the Corps. Finally, the Corps’ Lieutenant Ben Kitzoni awarded his sister Liel her Sergeant’s rank.
100th anniversary of the Moshav
Israel celebrated the centenary of the founding of the first moshav (Nahalal) in 1921. There are now 450 moshavim (cooperative agricultural villages and communities) in Israel. President Rivlin told of his late wife, Nechama’s mother who ran a moshav farm alone with her daughters.
Greetings from the Pope
Pope Francis sent a warm message to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin during his flyover of Israel on the way from Rome to Iraq. In the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, the Pope met with representatives of the three Abrahamic religions in Ur of the Chaldeans, the city where Abraham originated.
Mum, look what I found
Ancient artifacts can be discovered all over Israel. 11-year-old Zvi was hiking with his family when he stumbled upon a pottery figurine at Nahal Habesor in southern Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority identified it as a 2,500-year-old iron-age amulet and awarded Zvi a certificate of appreciation.