This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel May 3, 2020
As the number of coronavirus infections and fatalities falls globally, we thank the medics, hospital staff, care workers, researchers, scientists, innovators, philanthropists, volunteers and essential workers, who have, and continue to be, essential to our recovery. This newsletter highlights the vital work of the State of Israel to tackle the pandemic.
The photo is of Israel’s aerial salute to thank the Medical teams at Netanya’s Laniado Hospital on Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day. It has not been photoshopped – a bird (possibly a dove of peace) flew into the air as the picture was taken. I just rotated the image to fit the email.
The highlights include:
- Six coronavirus patients are improving thanks to a new Israeli treatment.
- Israeli-Arabs lit three of Israel’s 12 Independence Day torches.
- Volunteers from Israel’s IsraAID are delivering food to needy Californians.
- New Israeli kiosks allow safe and fast coronavirus testing.
- The EU is financing half of the development of Israeli coronavirus stem cell treatment.
- An Israeli app allows Israel’s President to visit your home.
- During the pandemic, 40 Jews make Aliya from Ukraine and Brazil.
- The Israeli Air Force saluted medics with an Independence Day fly-past over Israeli hospitals.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Israeli coronavirus treatment benefits six patients. Six moderate to severe Israeli coronavirus patients have shown clinical improvement with the new opaganib treatment from Israel’s Redhill (see here previously). All required less supplemental oxygenation, had higher lymphocyte counts and less lung inflammation.
Startup funds coronavirus treatment. Israeli startup InnoCan is funding research at Tel Aviv University to develop a cannabinoid-based coronavirus treatment. Together with exosomes (particles derived from stem cell culture) it has been shown to be effective against inflammation in lung cells infected with the coronavirus.
Weizmann starts coronavirus testing. Israel’s Weizmann Institute has started conducting tests to diagnose coronavirus. Its world-class, cutting-edge lab facilities include advanced polymerase chain reaction (PCR) systems, which are capable of rapid and efficient gene identification.
Transforming Israel’s ability to combat coronavirus. In just 4 weeks, Israel’s Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP) set up of hotel recovery centers, acquired ventilators, testing equipment, and protective gear and then organized for local Israeli companies to take over their manufacture.
Inside Sheba’s battle with COVID-19. (TY Stuart) Fascinating video of the coronavirus isolation compound at Sheba Medical Center. It focuses on Dr Galia Barkai, Head of Pediatrics and Tele-medicine and shows some of the major issues they have been facing. Sheba also monitors patients in their own homes (see 2nd video).
Identifying high risk patients. As reported here previously, Israel’s Medial EarlySign has partnered with Israeli health company Maccabi to identify its members with a high risk of influenza complications. The system will now be used to fast-track testing and treatment if these patients report coronavirus symptoms to Maccabi.
Saving children’s lives in times of adversity. At the Schneider Center for Pediatrics, despite the coronavirus crisis, three life-saving transplant operations were performed on children: Two livers and one kidney. One very complex liver transplant was for an 8-month old infant. The other was the third sibling to receive a new liver.
More Israelis recovered than still infected. This week, for the first time, the number of Israelis that have recovered from the coronavirus exceeded those that still have the infection. On 2nd May, over 9,600 had recovered while under 6,500 are still infected (mostly mild or asymptomatic). 82 are on ventilators.
Ready for the next crisis. In case there is a resurgence of the coronavirus, Israel has acquired or manufactured thousands of respirators, some 61 million surgical masks, 930,000 advanced N95 masks, about 1.4 million protective outfits for medical teams, 403,000 disposable gowns, and a million coronavirus testing kits.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Helping the elderly during lockdown. (TY I24 news) This video highlights the many volunteers (young and not so young) who are using the time they now have available to help the elderly. The volunteers deliver food to those who cannot go outside during the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQwwKSeHdRQ
Computers for special needs children. The Jerusalem municipality in partnership with the Jerusalem Foundation have distributed dozens of tablet computers to children with special needs. Mayor Moshe Lion stated, “During this crisis, determined actions are needed to support families with special needs children.”
Arab-Israelis light Independence Day torches. The honor of lighting three of Israel’s twelve Independence Day torches was given to Arab-Israeli MDA volunteer Yasmeen Mazzawi, Druze IDF commander Colonel Hisham Ibrahim and Arab-Israeli nurse Ahmad Balauna. Youtube below is I24 interview of Yasmeen Mazzawi.
Arabs fight in Israel’s war. (TY Myer) In Israel’s war against the coronavirus, Jewish and Arab doctors work side by side. Israel’s public broadcaster reported “This is the first time that Israel is conducting a war and Arab citizens have been recruited”. Arabs comprise 17% of Israel’s doctors, 24% of nurses, and 48% of pharmacists.
Arab doctor carries the Sefer. (TY Janglo) Dr. Abed Zahalka of the Mayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak has formed deep ties to the Haredi community in the city. Dressed in full protective equipment, the Arab-Israeli doctor recently brought a holy Torah scroll into the coronavirus ward for the patients to read from.
Sheba partners NIH for coronavirus research. Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the medical research agency of the US, are joining forces to undertake applied scientific and clinical research to find treatments to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Delivering food to the needy in California. (TY UWI) Volunteers with Israeli NGO IsraAID are partnering with regional food banks and US veterans organizations, among others, to deliver food to Californians in need. They have been working in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Jose and Santa Barbara.
Combatting coronavirus in Africa. Here is the latest video from Innovation: Africa. It shows the Israeli NGO’s latest work bringing clean water and electricity to remote African villages which are at serious risk of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzOlVNlLDYQ
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
IDF converts 100 respirators into ventilators. (TY Hazel) Nearly 150 IDF engineers worked with doctors and scientists from Sheba’s ARC innovation center to convert non-invasive respirators into 100 invasive BiPap ventilators. They can serve more than one patient at a time and be linked up to a central monitoring system.
Build a low-cost ventilator. 300 businesses and non-profits around the world have taken up the free Israeli design (reported here previously) for the AmboVent ventilator for critical coronavirus patients. Its inventors estimate it can be produced for just $500 and help avert a collapse of the health care systems in Africa.
Ventilator hood protects medical staff. Israel’s Tamar Robotics, founded by alumni of Israel’s Technion Institute, have developed an acrylic covering for coronavirus patients receiving oxygen. It prevents medical staff from being infected. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA1Jwu-6S2g&t=101s
Coronavirus testing kiosks. Israeli furniture manufacturer I.M. Segev and the IDF have built dozens of contact free coronavirus testing booths for the Israeli Health companies Maccabi and Leumit. They have attracted much interest in France, Italy, Germany, the UK, US and China. I.M. Segev is also developing “hugging booths”.
On-line science learning. The educational arm of Israel’s Weizmann Institute has launched an online learning website, “Stuck at Home?”. It offers science activities to keep students on track if they are not attending school. The science trivia games, videos, experiments and activities are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
Touch-free electronics. (TY UWI) Israel’s Sonarax (reported here previously) is marketing its touchless ultrasonic data-transmission technology for a coronavirus world. With the right connections, you need touch only your smartphone in order to check in, check out or ride the elevator. https://www.sonarax.com/
Risk assessment tool for coronavirus. Israel’s Diagnostic Robotics is very busy developing tools to help combat the coronavirus (see previous). Its latest is a digital risk assessment and monitoring platform for health officials to track the spread of the coronavirus in Israel and assess their progress in bringing it under control.
Is coronavirus spreading? Check the water. (TY Hazel) Israel’s National lab for Environmental Virology is analyzing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2. The level of the virus in the sewage system should correspond with the level of local infections. If not, then local testing needs to increase. It worked during a previous Polio outbreak.
Health-tech contest spawns anti-coronavirus startups. The winners of Tel Aviv’s Time to Care public health design contest (Jan) are now maturing into startups helping to combat COVID-19. EnRoute makes coronavirus patient transportation safer and more efficient. Essential (Eshe) has developed a digital health card for refugees.
Preventing cattle theft. Here is a recent rustling news story, including mention of Israeli startup Bactochem, that has helped recover stolen cattle thanks to its database register of animal DNA. Also, a reminder of Robin Rosenblatt’s project to bring Texas Longhorn cattle to Israel to help reduce the theft of cattle from Israeli farms.
Who was that masked man? Wearing a coronavirus mask will not conceal a person’s identity from the face-recognition technology of Israel’s Corsight. Its camera-based technology can identify people in real time with only half of their face showing, even in low light conditions. It controls authorized access to sensitive areas.
Sustainable Nation. Cinemas are closed globally, so just before Israeli Independence Day, the documentary Sustainable Nation had its digital world premiere. It follows three innovative Israelis who are helping to bring sustainable water solutions, developed in Israel, to an increasingly thirsty planet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XeLuymnZko
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
EU finance for Israeli coronavirus treatment. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) advancing Israel’s Pluristem 50 million Euros to fund 50% of its pioneering regenerative PLX cell therapy platform. Pluristem’s treatment has saved six critically ill Israeli coronavirus patients (see previously).
Israeli funding for coronavirus research. The Israel government has granted NIS 10 million to 84 research projects to combat COVID-19. 18 of these grants (20%) were awarded to projects of the University of Haifa.
Energy projects to kickstart the economy. Israel’s Energy Ministry has proposed a NIS 25 billion raft of mainly privately funded energy and infrastructure projects to help kickstart the post-coronavirus economy. At least half the projects would involve increasing power from renewable sources.
More funds for startups. In this week’s investments, code developer Codota raised $12 million; air-cleaning enVerid raised $20 million; Corsight AI (facial recognition even wearing a mask) raised $5 million, and digital microscope maker Scopio raised $16 million. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIWE4jtI_A0
Sale of $8 million inspection systems. Israel’s Camtek, manufacturer of metrology and inspection equipment, has received an $8 million order for multiple EagleT-i systems, its advanced inspection system. The purchaser, a tier-one global CMOS Image Sensor manufacturer, highlights strong market demand for Camtek’s products.
50 startups thriving despite coronavirus. CTech has produced a list of Israel’s 50 most promising startups that they believe will survive and thrive despite the coronavirus turmoil. They cover Deep tech, Entertainment & media, Unicorns, Logistics & e-Commerce, Cyber & cybersecurity, and Medical technology.
Making face masks fashionable. Savvy Israeli designers have spotted a marketing opportunity – trendy face masks. They have stopped producing expensive wedding dresses that are inappropriate for low-key events. But the elegant masks are very popular with the public who prefer to feel fabric rather than paper against their face.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Almost every Israeli film to be available on-line. The Israel Film Archive has been digitalizing its 5,000 hours of Israeli feature films, documentaries, newsreels and home movies. It has now started to release them online. Many of the films are delicate and have been repaired prior to digitizing.
Independence Day concert of Israeli classics. The Ra’anana Symphonette orchestra and 4 talented female Israeli Opera singers performed this concert of classic Israeli songs to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. While all keeping a socially distant 2 meters from each other. https://youtu.be/YMOJuklpkWY?t=575
Israeli President visits your home. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin was unhappy that citizens were unable to attend Independence Day events this year due to the pandmic. So, he arranged for an innovative Israeli app to download a hologram of himself via smartphones into your home. You can even take a selfie with him.
The best photographs of Israel. To celebrate Israel’s 72nd birthday, Israel21c asked top photographers to share some of their most joyous pictures of the Jewish State.
Drafted into the IDF and NBA. (TY Janglo) Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, 19, has won an MVP title and two international basketball gold medals. When “hoops” was suspended due to the pandemic, Deni was drafted into the IDF. When play restarts he will get “exceptional athlete” status and be drafted into the NBA.
THE JEWISH STATE
We all need to know about San Remo. This is a recording of the live broadcast from Jerusalem on Sunday 26 April 2020 on the 100th anniversary of the 1920 San Remo Resolution. The treaty is the recognition in International Law of the rights of the State of Israel, recognizing its Biblical legitimacy and historical links.
Father & son paramedics donate blood plasma. Magen David Adom paramedics Yoel Glatt and his son Menachem who recovered from coronavirus (see here previously) have now donated their blood plasma. It should contain antibodies that can be used to treat patients critically ill with COVID-19.
16-year-old girl wins youth Bible Quiz. Ruth Cohen, 16, from Gedera won the 2020 World Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth. It was broadcast live on Israeli TV. Education Minister Peretz said, “For the first time in 10 years, we have a female Bible quiz winner. You’ve brought pride to our country.”
New Olim still arriving. Aliyah to Israel is continuing as another nine Jewish Olim (immigrants) from Ukraine arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on a flight arranged by the Jewish Agency for Israel and sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Also 31 Brazilian Olim arrived on 10 flights over 50 hours.
Flight of honor for grandson of downed pilot. Captain Shelah, is a third-generation pilot in Israel’s air force. His grandfather, Col. Ehud Shelah, was shot down in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Captain Shelah flew his jet in formation over the military cemetery in Jerusalem where the annual Memorial Day ceremony was taking place.
Builders of Zion. Aliya organization Nefesh B’Nefesh has awarded its 2020 Bonei Zion prizes to seven outstanding Anglo immigrants. They are David Blatt (sports), Debbie Gross (non-profit), Dore Gold (global impact), Deborah Rund (science & medicine), Reuven Asch (education) and Zo Flamenbaum (leadership).
Celebrating Independence Day. On its 72nd birthday the State of Israel has 9.19 million citizens (up from 806,000 in 1948). 74% Jews, 21% Arabs. The approximately 6.8 million Jews represent 45% of the world’s Jewish total. 180,000 new Sabras were born in 2019, vastly exceeding the 44,000 citizens who passed away.
Saluting Israeli medics. In a display of appreciation, the Israeli Air Force gave a sky-high Independence Day salute to medical staff working on the front lines to combat the coronavirus. A squad of four stunt planes flew over the country’s hospitals and medical centers. https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SkTeeiIt8
A different Yom Ha’atzmaut in Jerusalem. (TY Sharon) This year’s Memorial Day and Independence Day moved from the Jerusalem streets to the clouds, to Zoom and on-line. At the Western Wall, the President and his honor guard wore masks. As Yom Ha’atzmaut began, many went out to sing the national anthem Hatikvah.