The Israeli innovation leading the battle against the coronavirus

Through innovation and science Israel is trying to find a way to beat COVID-19 (popularly known as “corona”).

Through innovation and science Israel is trying to find a way to beat COVID-19 (popularly known as “corona”): (photo credit: Courtesy)
Through innovation and science Israel is trying to find a way to beat COVID-19 (popularly known as “corona”):
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The world is in a race against time in combating COVID-19 and Israeli technology is leading the way in finding options to help those affected, as well as developing the first vaccine. Even senior Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, gave his approval to use a coronavirus vaccine developed by Israel if “there is no substitute.”
On a daily basis, the Israeli government is introducing ever-tightening regulations to protect its citizens and reduce interaction through social distancing. Israel has been at the forefront of measures to deal with coronavirus – for instance, by making all those who enter the country go into quarantine.
Through innovation and science Israel is trying to find a way to beat COVID-19 (popularly known as “corona”):
Israeli Carbyne’s Technology enables emergency call centers (ECC) to unify the flow of life-saving information into one operating platform.  By providing ECCs with advanced tools like live video, instant chat, and accurate location, Carbyne enables the call takers in the ECCs to be fully connected to an incident. This dramatically increases the situational awareness of the call takers which leads to a more efficient response, reduction in dispatch time, and ultimately saves lives.
The Jerusalem Report spoke with Amir Elichai, CEO of Carbyne, about how their technology is helping deal with corona: “Now, there is certainly an element of panic in every call. Typical emergency calls are done primarily by adults, and that is the case with the coronavirus as well.  We are seeing more dedicated emergency health centers opening globally for all coronavirus related calls to be directed to them.”
“The ability to have a live video session with a caller, is priceless. By connecting and screening patients remotely, authorities can dramatically reduce travel time for those who are suspected of having the coronavirus. It also increases the safety of first responders. There are numerous cases around the world where first responders, nurses, doctors, and other support teams have been infected by the virus,” Elichai told the Report.
“Instant chat is another powerful tool that Carbyne provides. It creates a clear and effective communications channel for those who are hard of hearing or cannot speak because they are too ill.
“Since the coronavirus outbreak, ECCs have seen an increase of over 700% in some cases. There is a massive overload of work for the call takers in the ECCs and the phone system. Carbyne’s cloud solution is ideal. Having a cloud native solution enables quick and effective communications like instant chat, which allows ECCs to manage countless sessions with callers, without the danger of phone crashes.
“Lastly, location. With Carbyne’s platform, the location is provided instantly, which allows for a faster dispatch than ever before. Furthermore, our technology enables the authorities to have a heat map of coronavirus related calls. Therefore, better strategizing their response and allocation of resources.”
Elichai continued, “The biggest obstacle of the coronavirus is that it spreads very easily and quickly. Having the ability to effectively communicate remotely reduces the travel time of suspected infected individuals and, therefore, the spread of the disease.
“It’s all about containment. Carbyne can help in the containment efforts by introducing one communications platform that allows for screening, tracking, communications, and responding in a more efficient way. With Carbyne, authorities can have the ability to see a live heat map of all calls relating to the coronavirus.  This is a powerful tool for the authorities since they can better assess the situation and decide how to allocate resources.  Our location services enables the authorities to know exactly if a quarantined person is indeed in a designated location.”
Elichai concluded, “Carbyne’s aim is to save lives. Since day one, our goal was to increase efficiency in ECCs, reduce response time, and save lives. Currently, with the coronavirus, we see the need for such tools. Emergency responses are, and will always be, first about communications and, only after, the support of the first responders. Our vision is to create a communications platform that advances ECCs to the most efficient point in their operations.”
EarlySense, the global leader in contact-free, continuous monitoring solutions for the healthcare continuum, is one of the strategic medical technologies being used by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center to help protect staff while monitoring isolated patients suspected of coronavirus exposure.
“We are doing our utmost to provide patients with quality care and comfort while minimizing the danger COVID-19 poses to our health practitioners and to the public,” said Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Innovation Officer at Sheba Medical Center. “We are grateful to EarlySense for answering an open call from our ARC innovation center for technologies and providing its contact-free patient monitoring system. Together with additional protocols, we are well-prepared to care for our isolated COVID-19 patients.”
Matt Johnson, CEO of EarlySense, told the Jerusalem Report, “the company’s contact-free continuous monitoring solution will help in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak by enabling health facilities to monitor patient vital signs while also keeping staff safe from exposure.
“The solution, which is already in use by Sheba Medical Center to monitor COVID-19 patients, provides caregivers the information they need, while minimizing the need for staff to enter isolated areas. As the virus continues to spread, Johnson anticipates additional healthcare facilities will turn to contact-free continuous monitoring technology as a crucial safety net.”
A new Israeli startup, iCough, in collaboration with the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, is developing a patient-operated disposable cough assist device, which would provide vital relief for people with conditions such as MS or SCI, who can develop serious respiratory issues and are at increased risk from viruses like corona. The new device, currently in development, would be instrumental for home management of outbreaks like that of corona.
iCough could provide a way for coronavirus patients with early symptoms to clear and ventilate their own lungs at home and reduce the chance of needing medical intervention. It’s simple device is a disposable hyperinflation inhaler that assists with secretions’ removal in home-settings without the need for medical assistance or ventilation, and with no sterilization issues.  The company is hoping to begin clinical trials soon.
Pluristem, an Israel-based regenerative medicine company in Haifa, says its placenta-based cell therapy product can treat patients who are suffering from respiratory and inflammatory problems due to corona.
“We will first approach COVID-19 patients through compassionate use so we can treat them immediately,” said Pluristem president and CEO Yaky Yanay.
“We will be able to support the healthcare system and be able to help maintain and contain this disease. The goal is that until people can develop a vaccine against COVID-19, we will be able to support the healthcare system,” Yanay concluded.
Israeli scientists from MIGAL are in the final stages of developing an oral vaccine for corona, according to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis.
Akunis, who has fast-tracked the approval process given the urgency of the situation, said: “Congratulations to MIGAL [The Galilee Research Institute] on this exciting breakthrough. With reference to the disease caused by corona, he commented, “I am confident there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat.”
Scientists at MIGAL, located in the Galilee region in the north of Israel, have been working on a vaccine the past four years, against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which causes a bronchial disease affecting poultry. The vaccine has shown it is effective in preclinical trials done at the Veterinary Institute.
“Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development,” MIGAL CEO David Zigdon said. The vaccine could “achieve safety approval in 90 days.”
MIGAL’s biotechnology group leader, Dr.Chen Katz said that MIGAL are responsible for the development of the vaccine. However, there would need to be a regulatory procedures, which would be involved in the large-scale production.
Katz said that in the preclinical trials, they demonstrated that the oral vaccination induces high levels of specific anti-IBV antibodies.
“Let’s call it pure luck,” Katz said. “We decided to choose coronavirus as a model for our system just as a proof of concept for our technology.”
Katz pointed out that after scientists sequenced the DNA of the novel coronavirus causing the current worldwide outbreak, MIGAL researchers discovered that the poultry coronavirus has high genetic similarity to the human one, and uses the same infection mechanism, increasing the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short period of time.
“Yes, in a few weeks, if it all works, we would have a vaccine to prevent coronavirus,” Katz concluded.
Another scientific advance in Israel which may help find a vaccine for the COVID-19 is at Institute for Biological Research.
Scientists have recently had a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic capability, production of antibodies for those who already have the virus and development of a vaccine.
However, it may take months before the vaccination is confirmed effective and safe to use.
The Defense Ministry said: “There has been no breakthrough in the efforts of the biological institute to find a vaccine for the coronavirus or to develop testing kits. The institute’s work is conducted according to an orderly work plan and it will take time. If and when there will be something to report, it will be done in an orderly fashion.”
“The biological institute is a world-renowned research and development agency, which relies on experienced researchers and scientists with great knowledge and quality infrastructures. There are now more than 50 experienced scientists working at the institute on researching and developing a medical remedy for the virus.”
Track Virus- a new Israeli app has been developed in partnership with United Hatzalah of Israel to help track those who have been in close contact with anyone who has been in contact with someone positively diagnosed with COVID-1 and will inform users if they have been in the same location or close contact with anyone positively diagnosed with the Covid-19 – coronavirus. The app works by cross-checking a person’s path with the paths of confirmed patients of the coronavirus as listed by the Health Ministry.
The creator of Track Virus, Uri Feldman said: “We are very excited that a large organization such as United Hatzalah has partnered with us in tracking and hopefully stopping the spread of the coronavirus by using advanced smartphone technology. Starting on Sunday, tens of thousands of users will receive the necessary information regarding the whereabouts of confirmed coronavirus carriers faster, in a more up-to-date manner and with more accuracy.”
Israel has set an example by the stringent measures it has taken in attempting to contain corona by its harsh quarantine rules and reducing social interaction to a minimum. Israeli innovation has led the way in helping people protect themselves, cope with the fear and in trying to find a vaccine. We only hope and pray that this difficult time period for Israel and the world will be over soon.