This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel April 5 2020
The highlights include:
- Major advances in Israeli coronavirus testing and treatment solutions
- Bio-filter sticker gives extra protection to surgical masks.
- Israelis have donated millions to combat coronavirus and help its victims.
- Israeli individuals and organizations are helping save lives in Italy.
- Israeli military factories are making ventilators, goggles and ambulance parts.
- Israel’s Emergency R&D Team leader led the team that built Iron Dome.
- Wildlife returns to Israel’s cities and airports.
- Recovered father & son MDA paramedics return to work.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Testing coronavirus treatment. As reported in the 22nd Mar newsletter, Israel’s Pluristem is developing a treatment for severe coronavirus patients. Latest news is that Pluristem has begun human testing in Israel.
Treatment for ARDS. The US FDA has approved a Phase 2 compassionate care trial of Aviptadil by the US-Israeli biotech NeuroRx at Rambam Medical Center on coronavirus patients. Aviptadil combats coronavirus- triggered Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in the lungs, which is fatal in 50% of sufferers.
UV light kills the coronavirus. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed a machine that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill viruses and bacteria on hospital surfaces. This will allow medical centers to speed up the sterilization of rooms (previously used chemicals) and make them ready for new patients.
MyHeritage to perform coronavirus testing. Last week, Israeli genealogy company MyHeritage.com announced it is donating 66,000 swabs to boost Israel’s coronavirus testing efforts. Now it is building a COVID-19 testing lab (at its own expense) and will perform at least 10,000 tests a day from 9th April.
Anti-viral sticker can transform surgical masks. The Galilee Medical Center is testing Maya – a 3D-printed sticker that Technion Professor Eyal Zussman has developed. When stuck on a surgical mask, it adds the extra layer of a biological filter. Its nanometric fibers are coated with disinfectants to effectively neutralize viruses.
Israeli-Arab bus driver released from hospital. The bus driver (see 22 Mar) who caught the coronavirus from Greek tourists has now been released from hospital. The 38-year-old Israeli-Arab was the first person who required a ventilator in Israel to recover from the virus. He had been treated with Remdesivir.
Sleep app offered free to boost immune system. As reported (here) Israel’s Dayzz and its app help diagnose sleep problems. Now Dayzz is offering the app free to organizations and individuals, in the hope it will boost immunity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Lack of sleep also increases anxiety levels (& vice-versa).
Special MDA ambulances to protect medics. (TY UWI) MDA has 50 ambulances that are sealed inside, to protect the driver and paramedics from being infected by coronavirus patients they are transporting to hospital. The only need to be in physical contact with the more serious cases, when they wear full protective suits.
World’s first coronavirus psychiatric ward. (TY Hazel) Israel’s Sheba Medical Center has opened and tested the world’s first ward for coronavirus sufferers with psychiatric problems. It currently has 4 patients but has capacity for 16. The hospital is anticipating the future needs for Israel’s 3,500 psychiatric in-patients.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Adopt a doctor. (TY Jacques) Israel’s Adopt-A-Doctor initiative began mid-March and within 10 days over 1,300 volunteers adopted 550 medical professionals. Volunteers help make life a little easier by cooking or sending food to the medic during shifts or for arrival home, watching kids, shopping, walking pets, or donating.
More philanthropists. Israeli businessmen have donated millions to Israeli organizations to help them save lives. E.g. NIS 10 million from businessmen Eyal Offer and $3 million from Yuri Milner to Sourasky, Sheba, Rambam, MDA, TAU and Leket. Meanwhile Israelis donated over NIS 1 million to 4-year-old orphaned twins.
Startup 3D-prints masks for hospitals. (TY I24 News) Israeli 3D printer firm, MAFIL Ltd. is 3D-printing hundreds of protective face masks and donating them to Israeli hospitals. Each mask takes one hour to print. They are also working in a government project to print parts for ventilators.
Israeli farmers feed the poor. Israeli farmers have joined forces with charities and municipalities to ensure the poor receive nutritious food on a regular basis. Leket (who feed 175,000 underprivileged citizens) said farmers are donating high-quality produce – 250 tons a week more fruits and vegetables than we normally receive.
Testing for Israeli-Arab towns. (TY Hazel) Two of Israel’s health companies Clalit and Leumit are testing for coronavirus in Arab cities e.g. Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, plus Shuafat and Beit Safafa in Jerusalem. A mobile testing facility is visiting Arab villages, to make testing more accessible in Arab communities.
Arab-Israeli students rescued from Jordan. (TY Hazel) Some 200 Arab-Israeli students studying in Jordan were able to return to Israel thanks to the Israeli Embassy in Jordan and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Jordan had closed its borders but approved Israel’s request to make a humanitarian exception for the students.
More medical aid for the PA. The Israeli Government (praised by the UN) sent more medical equipment to the Palestinian Authority. They also sent respirators to Jerusalem’s Arab hospitals. 3,000 COVID-19 test kits and 50,000 masks came from the World Health Organization for medical teams working in the PA territories.
Israeli doctor saves lives in Italy. Israeli doctor Carmi Sheffer is on the front line of treating coronavirus patients at the University Hospital of Padua in Italy. When he returns to Israel, his knowledge will help save Israelis as well. It includes using scuba masks attached to ventilators and patients lying on their side.
Stress support for Italians. Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID is helping volunteers and medics responding to the coronavirus crisis in Italy. Working remotely with the Jewish community in Rome, they have built webinars on stress management, psychological first aid and community resilience.
Israeli app to help track infected Americans. Israel’s Shemuel Levinger and Israeli friends in the US are launching COVUNITY. The App tracks coronavirus cases, supplying crucial data to US authorities and its citizens to help them fight the outbreak.
European countries to use Israeli coronavirus PR video. Italy’s Health Ministry has requested and has been given permission to use Israeli Health Ministry’s “infection chain” publicity video. Georgia and Ukraine also were given permission to broadcast the video in their countries. It has been shown in Israel in 4 languages.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Beating swords into ploughshares. Israel Aerospace Industries, with help from Israeli medical device maker Inovytec has converted a missile production facility to mass produce ventilators. And (TY Hazel) the IDF has converted factories making tanks to refit ambulances and another to make protective goggles for medics.
Coronavirus advice Chatbot. Israel’s Hyro has developed an artificially intelligent conversation platform that produces web-based Q&A response programs to take the pressure off healthcare professionals. Hyro has also generated a free triage chatbot where customers of Healthcare organizations can check if they have COVID-19.
One-stop shop for managing COVID-19. Israel’s Diagnostic Robotics has developed COVID360 – a “one-stop shop” digital platform for managing the coronavirus disease. The Israel’s Health Ministry and the four Israeli health care providers will roll-out the platform to every citizen to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Join a voice COVID-19 test project. Here is your opportunity to help develop a new test for coronavirus like the one that was reported here last week. This one, called Corona Voice Detect, is being developed by Israel’s Voca.ai (reported here previously) in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.
More about the virtual personal trainer. (TY OurCrowd) Israel’s Kemtai was briefly mentioned in the last newsletter. Here is an interview on Israel’s i24 News with Kemtai’s CEO Mike Telem who discusses and demonstrates the virtual personal training app. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDB4nMxvH9E
Emergency chief has good track record. The Head of Israel’s National Emergency Team to tackle the coronavirus pandemic is Brig Gen (reserves) Dr Daniel Gold, the head of Israel’s Defense R&D Directorate. He led the team that developed the Iron Dome defense system. He is the right person to lead this vital team.
Working from home is “the business”. Six Israeli startups are featured here that offer online tools to make homeworking for business easier and more productive. Only Monday.com has been reported here previously.
Reach Digital (contracts) https://reachhq.com/static/index.html
Webcand (interviews) https://webcand.com/
Clone (AR/VR “teleporting” meetings) https://www.clone.space/
Chatway (IM & project mgmt.) https://www.chatway.com/
Connecteam (Mobile staff management) https://connecteam.com/
New railway signaling system. Israel Railways has used the closedown of its service to test the European Train Control System. ETCS controls and optimizes the speed of trains to safely synchronize with signaling.
Developing new herbicides. AgPlenus (a subsidiary of Israel’s Evogene) is partnering with Corteva of the US to develop new herbicides. The two companies aim to address the rise of global weed resistance by optimizing several of AgPlenus’ chemical families that have already been validated for herbicidal activity.
Home alone for bees. Israel’s Beewise was briefly mentioned previously (here) but this article features much more detail. Beewise’s Beehome is an autonomous hive that can house up to 40 bee colonies (2 million bees). Health and upkeep of the bees is controlled through a simple app on the beekeeper’s phone or tablet.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Israel issues first 100-year bonds. As part of Israel’s economic rescue plan, the Finance Minister is selling $5 billion of bonds to international investors. It includes $1 billion of 100-year bonds – the longest dated bonds in Israel’s history. They won’t be unsold – they are underwritten by Barclays, Citibank, BofA and Goldman Sachs.
Still seeking Israeli investment opportunities. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Israel-Colorado Innovation (ICI) Fund is actively looking for new investments in Israel. ICI Fund’s focus is IoT in agriculture, water, construction, industry 4.0, energy, and oil and gas. It hopes to soon close its fourth investment in Israel.
Free delivery software for small businesses. Israeli startup Bringg (see here) already provides delivery management software for the likes of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Walmart. Its version for small businesses has been launched early, due to coronavirus, and Bringg is offering it free to food and beverage companies.
Businesses doing well during lockdown. (TY NoCamels) Nataly Yousef of Israel’s Pitango Venture Capital writes about 5 business areas that are currently thriving despite the coronavirus pandemic. They are Health & Wellness, Grocery Deliveries, Remote Learning, Remote Working apps and On-line Entertainment.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
More on-line culture. Israel’s NoCamels recommends some more virtual websites for cultural activities during the coronavirus lockdown. They include the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv Art Studio (Facebook videos), On-line classes at the Tel Aviv University, and Travel Trailer Israel.
Wildlife returns. There are no Israelis or tourists on the beaches of Eilat because of the coronavirus pandemic. A herd of wild mountain goats took advantage of their absence to have a look around. And (see facebook) an unusual family of flyers took advantage of the reduction in air traffic at Ben Gurion Airport.
Keeping fit on-line. This article summarizes six Israel-based startups offering online workout tools that can help prevent your transition from fitness fanatic to couch potato. They are Fitness22 (see here), EyeClick (see here), WizeCare (see here) BlazePod, FitMyTime,and MoonRun. The last 3 appear here for the first time.
A marathon in his own living room. (TY UWI) Israeli marathon runner Gazcho Fanta decided to continue his training regime while under lockdown. Fanta, who holds the Israeli record for the 50km, ran 5,349 laps of his living room to complete the marathon distance in 3hrs 50mins.
THE JEWISH STATE
Helmsley Trust donates $11 million to aid Israel. The Helmsley Charitable Trust announced an emergency grant of $11 million. It will be used to set up COVID-19 wards in 7 Israeli hospitals and to transform Hasharon Hospital into a dedicated COVID-19 facility. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Helmsley-Trust-donates-11-million-to-boost-Israels-COVID-19-efforts-623394
US Ambassador donates $50,000 to Israeli food bank. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his wife Tammy have donated $50,000 to Leket Israel, the country’s largest food aid organization. It isn’t the first time the ambassador has helped an Israeli food bank
Haredi community stamps out coronavirus. The 6,000-member Haredi community of Kiryat Yearim (Telz-Stone) was hit hard with coronavirus when an infected resident returned from France. Saving life is paramount, so the community enforced complete isolation on 2,000 residents. There are no recent cases.
We will continue to sing. Israelis enjoyed a social-distancing concert on their balconies in an apartment block in Petah Tikva. The song “BaShana haba’ah” has the lyrics “You will see. How good it will be. Next year.”
Father & son MDA paramedics recover & return to work. Magen David Adom paramedics Yoel Glatt and his son Menachem were early coronavirus patients (29th and 48th). While in hospital they helped other patients. They have both now been released and have returned to the front line of Israel’s emergency medical service.
Where will help come from? Senator Lankford from Oklahoma knows the answer.
Keeping spirits up. Here are some more positive aspects of the current situation. They include Better air quality, starry skies, phone calls from friends and relatives, quiet roads, helpful volunteers, opportunities to be creative, time to relax, wildlife in the cities (see above),
Seder-in-a-Box. Israeli nonprofit Adopt-A-Safta has partnered with Nefesh b’Nefesh to deliver Passover Seder Boxes to needy, Holocaust survivors and new immigrants. It comes with a fully loaded seder plate, 3-course seder dinner from Kosher caterer Asparagus Catering, matzot and haggadot, delivered directly to homes.