In the 19th Apr 20 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
- Three Israeli treatments have saved lives of critically ill coronavirus patients.
- Israel has given coronavirus training to PA medics from Gaza.
- Three Israeli innovative solutions for the ventilator shortage.
- Investment in Israeli startups continues despite the pandemic.
- Many more opportunities to enjoy Israeli culture and entertainment on-line.
- A different Passover as Israelis sang with their neighbors from their balconies.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Positive coronavirus treatment news. Six critically ill Israeli coronavirus patients with organ failure are still alive after 1-week’s Pluristem’s PLX cell-therapy in three separate Israeli medical centers. Four show improved respiratory parameters – three of those could soon be weaned off ventilators with two showing clinical recovery.
- Latest – The first critically ill US coronavirus patient has received Pluristem’s treatment (in New Jersey).
Italy approves Israeli coronavirus treatment. (TY JNS) Italy has approved Opaganib from Israel’s Redhill Biopharma to treat some 160 severe COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory problems at three hospitals in northern Italy. Phase2 tests on 131 US patients were positive and two critically ill Israeli patients are improving.
Passive vaccine saves 29-year-old coronavirus patient. (TY Hazel) A 29-year-old coronavirus patient in Ashdod has improved from serious to serious but stable condition, after receiving multiple doses of plasma from a donor who recovered from coronavirus. Another patient who received plasma has also improved.
Targeting coronavirus proteins. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute are working with a UK laboratory and others to develop an anti-viral treatment that targets Protease – a protein essential for coronavirus activity. Meanwhile, Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists are testing many chemicals against similar proteins.
Decoys to trap coronavirus. Technion scientists are using their NanoGhost technology (reported here) to send NanoGhost stem cells into the lungs. The coronavirus cells then bind with the NanoGhost decoy cells rather than the cells in the lung, thus reducing the ability of the virus to propagate.
Radar for the lungs. Israel’s Sensible Medical has developed a radar-based system that continuously monitors a patient’s lung fluid levels to prevent deterioration. It has already in operation in four Italian hospitals and a US hospital has bought 20 units. Israel is also about to adopt it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
New coronavirus test is 10 times faster. Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed and implemented a new test for coronavirus infections that is much faster, cheaper and hasn’t the resource issues of current tests. It extracts RNA from swabs as now, but with a magnetic bead-based cleanup process called SPRI.
Recovered. The many critically ill Israeli coronavirus patients being cured include a couple from Ashkelon aged 90 and 87 who can now celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Also, Eli Beer, CEO of Israel’s United Hatzalah has awoken from a coma.
Donation to fund coronavirus research. The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation has donated NIS 15 million to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for coronavirus research. It will fund 60 research teams at HU that are working on a vaccine, improving testing methods, and developing treatments for COVID-19 patients.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israel’s first Haredi doctor in coronavirus front line. The first Israel-trained ultra-Orthodox doctor (see here) Dr Yehuda Sabiner, has begun his internship in the Coronavirus ward at Sheba hospital. Dr Sabiner also helped initiate a Rabbinic proclamation ordering Haredi communities to observe the coronavirus lockdown.
Druze brothers lead Arab sector COVID-19 battle. (TY Hazel) Two Druze brothers from Daliat al-Carmel in the Haifa District are spearheading the IDF’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic in the Arab sector. Col. (res.) Saleem Wahaby is directives instructor and his brother, Maj. (res.) Zohar is liaison commander.
Israelis train Gaza medics. Dozens of doctors, nurses and medical personnel in Gaza have been trained by Israeli teams in techniques to treat patients infected with the coronavirus. Sessions took place at the Erez border crossing, at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and by conference calls. Hamas even acknowledged it.
Israel helps Palestinian Arab sheikhs return from Indonesia. (TY Hazel) Despite having no diplomatic relations, Israel helped evacuate five Palestinian Arab sheikhs from Indonesia to Nablus, after it banned foreigners due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Clean water reduces Africa’s risk from COVID-19. Israeli NGO Innovation: Africa (see here) is racing to prevent mass infections by installing Israeli solar and water technologies in remote villages in Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon and South Africa. Clean water can prevent COVID-19 wiping out entire villages.
Chinese donors send Israel medical supplies. Chinese donors enamored with the Jewish State have been inundating the Israeli embassy in Shanghai with medical materials for shipping to Tel Aviv. They include from former tourists and academic exchange alumni who have fond memories of Israel.
The safest country. Forbes Economic magazine has published a study by Deep Knowledge that ranks how 60 countries are dealing with the coronavirus. It analyzed safety, risk level, treatment efficacy, and government support for people affected. Israel was ranked as the safest of the 200 countries assessed.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Israeli portal for corona-tech. Israeli tech nonprofits Start-Up Nation Central and HealthIL, have set up a new website, CoronaTech Israel, to become a one-stop-shop for technological COVID-19 solutions from Israel and abroad. Its analyses, news, developments, challenges, grants etc. aims to initiate projects to combat the crisis.
Turning oxygen tanks into ventilators. Another “beating swords into ploughshares” story. The IDF Shayetet 13 Naval commando unit is using its expertise in diving with oxygen to convert its oxygen tank production line into making medical oxygen compression systems (ventilators) for critically ill coronavirus patients.
Elbit makes ventilators. Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems has repurposed assembly lines to manufacture thousands of automatic ventilation machines. It expects initially to produce around 300 machines per week, enabling medical centers to provide care to patients suffering from less severe respiratory conditions,
Make me a ventilator. Graduates from Israel’s Technion Institute have developed an ingenious solution for the rapid production of ventilators. With its 40 partners in the AmboVent project they have designed a product called AmboVent-1690-108 which can be mass-produced using the readily available “open” published design.
New mask for ultimate protection. Israel’s Technion and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa have developed a face mask for those treating COVID-19 patients. A pump worn near the waist sends cool filtered air into a fan inside the mask, creating an air curtain to protect medical workers from any droplets containing the coronavirus.
Lowering the risk of supervising patients. Remote device monitoring of ventilators is currently being tested at Laniado Hospital in Netanya. Developed by the Directorate of Armored Combat Vehicles (Tank Assault Program) of the Ministry of Defense, it reduces the need for medical personnel to be in the contaminated area.
Students build COROBOT. Students from Haifa’s Hebrew Reali school, mentored by engineers from Israel’s Technion, have developed COROBOT – a robot to deliver equipment, medicine and food to coronavirus patients. It can help protect hospital medical staff from COVID-19. A radio control device steers the robot.
Detecting coronavirus by loss of smell. (TY Hazel) Professor Noam Sobel of Israel’s Weizmann Institute has built smelltracker.org to help diagnose coronavirus patients. Thousands have registered on the site and report their ability to smell pungent household products. Losing the sense of smell is a symptom of coronavirus.
Thermal cameras to detect coronavirus carriers. (TY Hazel) Israel’s AnyVision (reported here previously) is deploying thermal cameras at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital). The cameras can measure body temperature from a distance and can determine whether a high temperature is caused by disease.
Multimillion EU grants to 3 Hebrew U professors. Three Hebrew University of Jerusalem professors have been awarded European Research Council Advanced Grants. They include 3.2 million Euros to Prof Yinon Ben-Neriah for a leukemia treatment and 1.6 million Euros to Math Prof Alex Lubotzky (his 3rd ERC grant).
Record production of renewable energy. On Sunday 5th Apr Israel set a new all-time record for the production of renewable energy. The peak was set at 1610 MW, accounting for 27% of the nation’s total production. https://unitedwithisrael.org/
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Record bond sale. The previous newsletter stated that Israel’s treasury sold $5 billion in long-term bonds to help alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the issue was so oversubscribed, that a record $25 billion was raised, highlighting international confidence in Israel’s economy.
Checking the quality of medical supplies. (TY Hazel) Israel has recruited local start-up Qlarium to screen providers of medical equipment to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Qlarium, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to give an intelligence picture about the reliability of suppliers, including the Chinese market.
Protecting the Swiss Army. Israel’s Elbit Systems has been awarded a contract worth $15 million to provide command and control (C2) systems for the Tactical Reconnaissance System (TASYS) of the Swiss Armed Forces. It will help generate a common operational picture and facilitate rapid and effective decision making.
How do you like your microalgae? Israeli start-up Yemoja, cultivates customized, pharmaceutical grade microalgae on demand. It utilizes unique, high precision, fast-track photobioreactor technology. Yemoja aims to develop these marine “super-crops”, boosting the entire microalgae value chain with new varieties and yields.
Grants for companies combating coronavirus. Israel has issued NIS 22 million of its NIS 50 million fund (see here) for Israeli startups countering the coronavirus. They include NEAT Applied Technologies (air flow in ventilators), Ezmems (sensors for ventilators) and NanoScent (scent detection of infection).
Focusing on Israel. Despite the global economic slowdown, Israel-headquartered VC firm Entrée Capital has raised $100 million for a new, third Israel-focused fund. It will target early-stage Israeli founded startups active in the fields including deep tech, SaaS, fintech, quantum computing, AI, AR / VR and healthcare.
Investment in Israeli startups. Despite the economic crisis, Israel’s Vast Data has raised $100 million; Cato Networks raised another $77 million; Tyto Care raised $50 million; Glassbox Digital raised $40 million. Bringg raised $30 million; CyberMDX raised $20 million; Cyolo raised $4.2 million and Agroscout raised $3 million.
Viacom acquires Ananey. ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI), owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, has taken over Israel’s pay TV channel provider Ananey Communications. The two companies will also set up Gazella – a new fund focusing its investment on Israeli media and tech-related businesses.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Happy Passover from the Israel Philharmonic. Social isolation hasn’t prevented the Israel Philharmonic, Israel’s top orchestra, from performing this Passover-related concert piece to a virtual audience.
Virtual Jerusalem. (TY Sharon) The Real Jerusalem Streets may be empty, but there is plenty for on-line tourists. View the Kotel (Western Wall), Tower of David museum, Bible Lands museum, Western Wall tunnels and the City of David Sound & Light show. You can even watch films or opera at Jerusalem’s Cinemateque.
A virtual tour of Jerusalem. Each year, during Passover and Easter, thousands of worshipers flock to Jerusalem’s holiest sites. Unfortunately, this year that won’t be possible, so these breathtaking and spiritual sites are brought to you in a special virtual tour. https://www.youtube.com/
Stream Israel. (TY SCICC) IZZY is a new streaming platform similar to Netflix, which will feature movies, TV shows, and documentaries. Request a special invite; or wait until IZZY launches in the Fall. Izzy gives a front-row seat to Israel for a low monthly fee. https://helloisrael.tv/ https://helloisrael.tv/
Israel judo champ sells memorabilia to buy ventilators. (TY WIN) Israeli judo champion Sagi Muki is auctioning off memorabilia including the uniform from his victory at the 2019 Judo World Championships in Japan. The money raised will buy ventilators for the Laniado hospital in his hometown of Netanya.
THE JEWISH STATE
Sharansky donates Genesis Prize money. Natan Sharansky has donated his $1 million Genesis Prize to aid those affected by coronavirus. The Israeli former Soviet prisoner urged people to “think about our great journey together and about new challenges which we face together, and that we will win together.”
IDF cares. (TY Hazel) Some 1,000 Israeli soldiers are helping at 200 assisted living facilities around the country, providing the help they need during this period, when they are unable to leave their homes. A commander and four soldiers have been assigned to each facility,
Making Israel safer together. (TY Robert) Yatar Israel is a highly trained counter terrorism unit of the Israel Security Forces that shields vulnerable citizens. Its volunteers are either ex-elite IDF officers or have extensive defense background, who take orders from and support Israeli Border Police and National Israeli Police.
Israel sends matza to Egypt. The Israeli government has sent matzahs and other essential Passover items to the tiny Jewish community in Egypt. Israel’s Embassy in Cairo and Jewish organizations managed to get boxes of kosher for Passover food to the 20 Jews in Cairo and Alexandria – a tiny remnant of the 80,000 in the 1940’s.
The Unapologetic Zionist’s Haggadah Anthology. (TY Ruth K) The American Zionist organization Herut published “The Unapologetic Zionist’s Haggadah” for Passover. It included hard-to-find essays by the founding fathers of Zionism. The 20-page PDF booklet provided a welcome respite from coronavirus worries.
Co-existence in an Israeli hospital. In an Israeli hospital, an Arab nurse reads the Four Questions, a Jewish Prayer, to elderly patients who are unable to be with their children and grandchildren on Passover due to the coronavirus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Pesach in Jerusalem 2,400 years ago. (TY Haaretz) The Passover Letter of Elephantine is the oldest known ex-biblical account of Passover laws. Sent by Hananiah, a high official in Jerusalem, to his “brother” Yadaniyah and the Judean soldiers on Egypt’s Elephantine island, the papyri are 400 years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Passover seder in prison. This year, Israeli prisons didn’t conduct the usual communal Seder for inmates. Instead each cell held its own individual Seder. Over 2,000 Sedarim took place, with guidance beforehand.
A different night. At the Passover Seder, hundreds of thousands of Israelis went onto their balconies to sing ‘Ma Nishtana’ – the 4 questions, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” and other Seder songs. (The first video in the Ynetnews article shows the phenomena at some 10 Israeli cities)