This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Aug. 9, 2020
The Jewish day of Love – Tu B’Av was celebrated this week, and Israel’s love for humanity could not have been more clearly visible. It included successful efforts to save the lives of Covid-19 patients; new treatments for cancer, CJD and Alzheimer’s; neurosurgery to save a Muslim boy; support for needy Israelis, Palestinian Arab startups and aspiring women entrepreneurs; Covid-19 aid for 15 countries; food to families in Ethiopia, tech to warn of earthquakes, help the visually impaired, protect Internet users and develop new medicines. Finally Israel offered aid and sent messages of support to Lebanon while simultaneously welcoming French Jews escaping European antisemitism.
The highlights include:
- An Israeli Covid-19 treatment being trialed has already saved many patients.
- Israeli surgeons saved a Muslim boy accidentally shot during Eid celebrations.
- An Israeli program was launched to generate more female health-tech executives.
- Israel won the top University International Math competition.
- An Israeli additive will help make buildings free from Covid-19.
- Upgraded Israeli smart glasses give even more help to the visually impaired.
- Israeli hospitals are on standby to receive victims of the Beirut explosion.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Aviptadil saves Covid-19 patients. As reported here previously, Aviptadil from Israel’s NeuroRx, is undergoing Phase 2/3 trials in Israel and the US. The adapted treatment, now known as RLF-100, prevents Covid-19 replication and has already significantly improved the health of 15 emergency cases in the US.
Latest progress at the HUJ against Covid-19. This video shows up-to-date information on the research work being conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem into testing and treatments for Covid-19.
50 Technion labs battle against Covid-19. This video shows Technion scientists working on innovations to improve Covid-19 testing, screen for contagion, fast track vaccines, nano ghost decoys, liquid foam therapy for ARDS, self-cleaning mask, antiviral sticker, ventilator hood, air-filter mask, disinfectant, Corobot and more.
October start for human trials of Israeli Covid-19 vaccine. Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz has announced that the Israel Institute of Biological Research will begin human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine in October. Phase 1 clinical trials for safety and efficacy will begin after the Jewish holidays that end on Oct 9th.
Corona patient leaves hospital after 99 days. 74-year old Marina Chivatova was discharged from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center after having spent no less than 99 days in the hospital’s Corona Unit. It could be the world’s longest stay for a hospitalized Covid-19 patient and shows that Israel never gives up.
Matching therapy to tumor behavior. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute and at MIT and Harvard can identify the most suitable cancer therapy from the signals detected in the tumor itself. They analyze the pathway of the tumor using PathOlogist – an advanced bioinformatics tool developed by Bar-Ilan professor Sol Efroni.
Nano antioxidant for CJD patients. (TY UWI & I24 News) More on the nano-engineered pomegranate oil antioxidant produced by scientists at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital. It is now being targeted at sufferers of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – common in specific Jewish groups. The latest findings give hope.
Israeli neurosurgeons save Muslim boy’s life. (TY JNS) A bullet from Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha celebrations hit a 9-year-old Arab boy in the head. At Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, Israeli neurosurgeons removed the bullet from deep inside the boy’s brain. Two days after the surgery, the boy was eating, talking and moving his limbs.
Prospective treatment for children with autism. In her lab, Professor Illana Gozes of Tel Aviv University (reported here previously) repaired live but damaged brain cells taken from deceased Alzheimer’s patients and an autistic child. It showed that her experimental NAP peptide could be used to treat both conditions.
The science of sleep. Another excellent medical webinar from Techion UK. Sleep And Dreams featured Professor Peretz Lavie, former President of Israel’s Technion Institute. He explained some of the mysteries about sleep and dreams. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Competition for remote Femtech. 15 startups are pitching their telemedicine for women to a panel at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. The Israeli startups include PulseNmore, Gyntools, MobileODT, HeraMed (HeraBeat), Nuvo (INVU), EfA (RevDX), MyMilk,and IsenseU (Milk-O-Meter).
Israeli animal therapy reported in UK Guardian. (TY Eric F) A rare (mostly) positive article in the normally anti-Israel Guardian. This emphasizes the importance of continually sending positive Israel articles to the Mainstream Media (MSM). https://www.theguardian.com/
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Donating Covid-19 grants to Israelis in need. A fund has been set up for Israelis to donate their Government Covid-19 grants to those most impacted by the pandemic. Several Israeli companies have promised to match donations made by their employees. Ex-IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot heads the fund’s advisory board.
Promoting more women health executives. Four female senior Life Science executives have founded the We@Heathtech program. Its aim is to propel junior women managers into executive positions in the health tech sector. It involves mentoring and an eight-month program of lectures and networking events.
Saving lives together. (TY BIG & Stuart) Israeli Arab Yasmeen from Nof Hagalil and Israeli Jew Natalie from Netanya work together as paramedics for Israel’s Magen David Adom. They are great friends, enjoy singing together and (of course) saving lives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Building bridges in tech. 50:50 Startups is an initiative that creates startup partnerships between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. After two years of preparation, its first group has brought together budding entrepreneurs at Azrieli College of Engineering to build joint platforms of equal ownership.
World’s heaviest plane makes first visit to Israel. (TY INN) The world’s heaviest cargo plane, the Antonov An-225, flown by a USAF crew, landed at Ben Gurion Airport, for the first time since it was built in the 1980’s. It carried trucks that were used to collect Iron Dome batteries purchased by the US Army from Israel.
Israel wins International University Math competition. The Israeli national student team (5 from Tel Aviv University, one from Bar-Ilan) took first place at the International Mathematics Competition for University Students. The event, held online, involved 546 students from 96 universities around the world.
The future of Education. 3,200 participants from U.S.A, Israel, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Mexico, Peru & many more countries attended the Zoom-out event “Re-imagine the Future of Education. It was organized by the Israeli American Council (IAC) together with Tel Aviv University and streamed live on July 13.
Free transport to Madrid hospitals. Israel’s Via has launched a ViaVan ridesharing transit service to connect Madrid residents and healthcare providers with the city’s Infanta Leonor Hospital and 12 de Octubre Hospital. The service is planned to operate until the end of August for seven days a week, between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Covid-19 aid to 15 countries. Israel has provided equipment and technology for fighting Covid-19 to 15 countries, including Guatemala, India, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Nepal. It sent medical equipment & tech, personal protective gear, handwashing stations, sanitizers and food supplies.
Food packages to student families in Addis Ababa. The Israeli embassy in Ethiopia sent food packages to 250 families of students at the School of St Yared in Addis Ababa. Each package included a month’s supply of oil, pasta, rice and soaps. The embassy previously sent medical equipment and PPE to the capital’s hospital.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Pinpointing Covid-19 in the sewers. As reported previously (see here) Covid-19 hotspots can be detected by analyzing virus levels in the sewage. Now Israel’s Kando (reported here previously) is working with scientists at Israel’s Technion and Ben Gurion University to detect outbreaks even before residents show symptoms.
Sodastream’s Covid-19 breathing machine. Israel’s Sodastream, now part of PepsiCo, has developed the StreamO2. It pushes temperature-controlled oxygen mixed with air into the patient’s nose. It helps Covid-19 patients suffering from respiratory distress, but who can still breathe on their own and don’t require a ventilator.
Covid-19-proof construction. Tambour, Israel’s leading paint and building material producers, is partnering Israel’s Tera Novel. Tambour will integrate Tera Novel’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial additive “Germs Over,” (developed by Israel Institute for Biological Research) with Tambour’s paints, adhesives, plaster, cement etc.
Extreme tech winners. Israeli startups won 2 awards in the Extreme Tech Challenge 2020 (XTC) – the world’s largest startup contest with 2,400 companies from 87 countries. ReWire won the Fintech category for its global digital banking solutions. TytoCare.(see here) won the Covid-19 Innovation Award for its telehealth solution.
Earthquake warning system. (TY Hazel) Recent video and update from SeismicAI (featured here previously) that uses an innovative sensor network and Artificial Intelligence to predict earthquakes and send alerts to help reduce damage. SeismicAi has pilot projects in Canada, the Himalayas and even Istanbul, Turkey.
US-Israel to conserve our heritage. The United States and Israel have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support cooperation and exchanges on biodiversity conservation, protected areas and the protection of cultural and historical heritage. It covers countering wildlife trafficking and protecting ecosystems.
New chip tech is “most promising venture”. The Venture program – Switzerland’s leading competition for up-and-coming entrepreneurs – ranked new on-chip memory technology developed at Bar-Ilan University, as one of three most promising ventures among nearly 330 start-ups. The technology is being commercialized.
Medals at chemistry Olympiad. (TY WIN) Israelis won one gold, two silver medals and a bronze at the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad, held on Zoom. 18-year-old Roi Peer won the first ever Israeli gold medal at the event. The Israelis competed against 240 students from 60 countries, including Iran and Syria.
A virtual desktop for working at home. Israel-based ControlUp (reported here previously) helps employees turn their home computers into a virtual office running on a virtual desktop from the cloud. Many of the 1,000 employees at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center use ControlUP for telemedicine and to work from home.
An app to prevent online exam cheating. Israel’s ORT Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel won a 250-participant hackathon with “Anansee” – an app to prevent cheating, specifically for online tests. The app uses the camera in the student’s computer and mobile phone, plus issues and verification checking.
Protecting the Internet from attack by your fridge. The Internet of Things makes home devices connected to the Internet (such as your fridge or TV) vulnerable to being hijacked and used to mount Denial of Service attacks via the Internet. Do not worry though – scientists at Israel’s Ben Gurion University can help stop that.
Israel’s largest server farm. Nine floors below Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim tech hub, Israel’s Bynet Data Communications is building one of Israel’s biggest data centers. Some of Israel’s most sensitive information will be stored inside the hill. It is said Herod used rocks from Har Hotzvim to expand the 2nd Temple.
Smart spectacles now can focus. The MyEye device for the visually impaired, from Israel’s OrCam (reported here previously) has been upgraded to include Smart Reader. The wearer can now ask the AI device to focus on specific items – e.g. only to read out the vegetarian items on a menu or just a newspaper’s headlines.
Israeli kids go to Space Camp. Israel’s SpaceIL in partnership with members of the Israel Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ramon Foundation, have launched a free online space camp for Hebrew speakers aged 7 – 11. It runs Aug 9 – 13, each morning having four different 30-minute activities.
AI to understand written text. Amnon Shashua, founder of Mobileye, has now founded AI21. Its aim is to revolutionize written communication with artificial intelligence (AI) software that can understand and generate text. Its AI generator HAIM fills in gaps in incomplete sentences. HAIMKE turns bullet-points into sentences.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Foreign currency reserves leap by $10 billion. It may only be temporary, but Israel’s reserves of foreign currency soared by a record $10 billion in July to a record $157 billion.
Digital gift cards. Israel’s Rise.ai has been selected by Google to help businesses offer digital gift cards via their listing on Google My Business (GMB). It will help small and medium businesses to survive and even thrive during the Covid-19 crisis. Digital tools and e-commerce have proved essential during the pandemic.
Teva’s biosimilar partnership. Israel’s Teva has joined with Iceland’s Alvotech to commercialize five biosimilar product candidates in the US. Biosimilars are slightly different versions of already approved treatments. They are not the same as “generics” but require less testing than the original and are much cheaper.
Gett expands with Ola. Israeli-founded Gett.(reported here previously) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with UK ride-sharing company Ola Cabs. Gett’s business clients can now receive service from Ola’s 2 million drivers in 250 cities around the world.
Improving the procurement process. Israel’s Approve has developed technology that fully supports the enterprise procurement process, from the initial purchase request to the final payment to the supplier. The product helps finance and purchasing departments save processing time, effort and costs of purchasing.
Investment in Israeli startups: Yotpo raised $75 million; Thriver raised $33 million; Silverfort raised $30 million; DarioHealth raised $28.6 million; ZenCity raised $13.5 million; Voiceitt raised $10 million; Beewise raised $10 million; EcoPlant raised $8 million; Approve raised $5 million; CAPS Medical raised $3.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
What’s on Center Stage. August online events at Israel’s permanent English-speaking theater include: tonight (Aug 9th) On Cue Interview (free) with funny men Lenny Ravich & Mike Kroll; Aug 12 The Coffee Club with Julie Gray & Gidon Lev; Aug 22 – 48-hour 5-minute play contest (free). Click on relevant date to register.
Jaffa theater goes digital. For the next few months. Jaffa’s Gesher Theater is offering audiences worldwide the opportunity each Thursday to tune in to some of its best plays on Facebook. The theme is “A Journey Through Our History,” Each week Gesher will conduct a discussion about the play with the house playwright and actors.
Israeli hikes based on the 12 tribes. (TY Jacques) Brothers Marcus and Emilio Cohen formed Shevet Haaretz (Tribes of Israel) to take groups across Israel on the first day (Rosh Chodesh) of each month of the year. Not only do they enjoy the scenery but on each hike, they also learn the history of one of the Biblical tribes.
Brewing up nicely. The American influence has made a huge difference to the Israeli brewing industry. Israel now has some 30 micro-breweries, many owned by US ex-pats. Their craft beers have become popular with the younger generation of Israelis. There is even a kosher for Passover cider and a new whiskey distillery.
THE JEWISH STATE
The Earth’s magnetic field 2606 years ago. When Jerusalem burned on the 9th Av 586 BCE, the intense heat realigned magnetic material in the floor of a building being excavated in the City of David. Yoav Vaknin of Tel Aviv University has been able to measure the Earth’s magnetic field on the day the 1st Temple was destroyed.
Israel offers help to Lebanon. Israel has offered Lebanon medical and humanitarian assistance in the wake of the blast at Beirut port. Even the BBC & CNN reported this. Israeli doctors and citizens sent messages of support and Israeli hospitals are on standby to receive wounded. Israel Flying Aid is raising funds for supplies.
Paramedic meets paramedic who saved his life. 12 years ago, a United Hatzalah paramedic saved Yaakov Bar Yochai’s life after he almost drowned in Eilat. It inspired Yaakov to also become a paramedic, but he was sad that he could not find and thank the person who saved him. 12 years later, Yaakov finally found Meir Hajbi.
French Jews fly to freedom. 140 Olim (immigrants) from France have just arrived in Israel thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They included medical and hi-tech professionals and many who suffered from anti-Semitism in France. Also, see the World Zionist Org’s plans for 50,000+ French Olim.