Israel Combats the Coronavirus On Many Fronts


Israel has been accused by Muslim conspiracy theorists of deliberately creating the coronavirus in order to: Choose one:

–infect all Muslims worldwide in order to kill them off;

–infect all humans worldwide in order to kill them off

–infect people worldwide in order to be able to sell to them, at exorbitant prices, a coronavirus vaccine that Israel had prepared long ago.

Those who retain their sanity, however, know that Israel, that speck on the world map, is doing as much as any other country, with the possible exception of the United States, both to find an effective vaccine, and to come up with new therapies to treat those already infected.

Here are just four of those Israeli advances:

#1. An Israeli scientist’s shrimp antiviral could be adapted for coronavirus treatment.

Prof. Avi Schroeder is working on a preventative drug for the coronavirus by adapting a food additive designed for shrimp.

The project is one of the several emergency projects that are the focus of around-the-clock work by 20 different labs at the Technion Institute of Technology to work on coronavirus vaccines, therapeutic treatments, diagnostic methods and patient treatment methods.

The 43-year-old scientist is a member of the Technion’s Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, and his lab first developed a food additive to boost the immune system of animals to protect them from contracting viral diseases. This invention formed the basis of his own commercialized start-up company, ViAqua Therapeutics, which focused the development of the drug on shrimp, as over 30% of the global shrimp population is wiped out yearly by a viral disease known as white spot syndrome.

This development was motivated by Technion’s prior studies, which predicted that viruses would be the biggest threat to animal life. Here is the story.

“Technion has been at the forefront of science and technology for so many years,” he said in a video Technion uploaded to social media.

“In fact, Technion was established to address the greatest challenges that human kind has faced. Viral diseases are one of these challenges… in fact, five years ago, at Technion itself, we identified viral diseases as the next big threat that animals may face.

“At that time, we didn’t think of this threat that we’re all facing here as humans,” he added, referring to the COVID-19.

However, he now thinks that his research can be adapted to help humans.“The gap is not great. We understand how the virus works and where we can attack it to stop its progression inside the body,” he said.

Since the outbreak first began, Schroeder has been very active in helping Israel prepare for and fight the coronavirus, even having agreed last week to advise the IDF Home Front Command on containing the virus.

ViAqua Therapeutics is not the only start-up involving animals that Schroeder has involved himself with. Another start-up he is involved with focuses on how elephants can help prevent cancer in humans, and is fittingly called Peel Therapeutics, with peel being the Hebrew word for elephant.

In addition, he is also working on another of Technion’s emergency projects to combat the coronavirus, this one being a therapeutic treatment method that could treat some respiratory distress symptoms.

#2. Scientists at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research are expected to announce in the coming days that they have completed development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus COVID-19. This announcement came at the end of March.

According to medical sources, the 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.

The development process requires a series of tests and experiments that may last many months before the vaccination is deemed effective or safe to use.

#3. The Migal Research Institute, based in northern Israel, held a press conference [on February 27]to reveal that they have developed a coronavirus vaccine. “It’s totally game-changing,” Migal CEO David Zigdon told From The Grapevine when we reached him by phone.

Migal, located in Kiryat Shmona near Israel’s Hula Valley, mostly focuses its research on agriculture and animals. And it was that specialty which gave it a leg up in the race to find this new vaccine. For the past four years, they have been working on developing a vaccine for coronavirus in chickens. When the human outbreak of the disease accelerated a few months ago, they soon realized there was only a few genetic tweaks needed to have the poultry version work in humans as well. “It was an issue of timing that we were already working on this project. We were here at the right time.”

“Zigdon told us that Migal will now repeat the pre-clinical trial. “Hopefully, in a few months we’ll have the final version that we can go to humans.” The vaccine will then have to go through several regulatory approvals which might be fast-tracked because of the outbreak. Migal – with 300 employees, including 100 with Ph.D.s – is a research institute and will not manufacture the vaccine for consumers. They are already in discussions with pharmaceutical companies and other health organizations to partner with.

#4. Dr. Rivka Abulafia-Lapid, a senior lecturer on virology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, believes that antiviral treatments for the coronavirus will likely become available within six months and much sooner than a vaccine, barring any unforeseen developments.

“Israel already has 11 different drugs for trial [on COVID-19 patients]… so I would say that the first thing to come out will be a drug that will be commonly agreed upon by the world’s scientists and the FDA [the US Food and Drug Administration], followed by a vaccine,” Abulafia-Lapid told The Media Line. “In a couple of months, they will come out with a future treatment or maybe a cocktail of drugs.”

There are eleven different drugs ready for trial on patients in Israel.

I could, of course, have listed many more vaccines now being developed in Israel, and many more advances in drugs to treat those already infected. I could have mentioned Israeli achievements in the treatment of many different kinds of cancer, and of heart disease, and of multiple sclerosis. Few people who follow medical advances are any longer surprised by the role of Israeli scientists in the advancement of medicine. But if Israel did not manage to produce a coronavirus vaccine, nor come up with new treatments, new drugs or old drugs repurposed, for those already infected – now that would be a surprise.

There are 57 Muslim countries in the O.I.C. (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). How many of them are currently working on a vaccine for the coronavirus? None. How many of them are coming up with new therapies to treat those already infected? None. How many of those Muslim countries, do you think, will be working on such therapies or vaccines in the future? None.

Isn’t it dismaying that this wonder-working phenomenon, Israel, that continues to do so much good for the world with its advances in so many areas, including – especially — medicine, is routinely and endlessly denounced by so many members of the U.N.? And these countries that so clamorously denounce the Jewish state –despite having benefitted from Israeli discoveries in the past, and sure to benefit from discoveries that will be made by Israeli researchers in the future– have they no shame?

Never have so many owed so much to so few.

No further questions, m’lud.

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