By Michael Ordman
NETANYA, Israel — In the January 10, 2021 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
More vaccines arrive. The first 120,000 doses of the 6 million coronavirus vaccines ordered from Moderna have arrived in Israel. These are to be primarily used to vaccinate homebound citizens. Over 1.5 million Israelis have now received their first vaccination and millions more Pfizer vaccines are arriving this coming week.
Race for the vaccine. Technion UK hosted a webinar featuring Professor Yotam Bar-Or of Israel’s Technion, who explained everything you need to know about the vaccines to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. He also gave many excellent answers at the end, to great questions raised by attendees.
Why Israel is a Covid-19 vaccination leader. The reasons for Israel’s high vaccination rate include universal healthcare, loyalty to health funds, focus on prevention, experience with emergencies and flu vaccines, secure access to patient medical records, hi-tech systems, publicity about vaccine availability and a willing public.
Green passports for vaccinated citizens. Israel’s Health Ministry is to issue “green passport” for Israelis who have been inoculated against the coronavirus. The app or printout will enable access to cultural and sporting events, museums, conferences, and possibly restaurants, cafes, malls, hotels, gyms and swimming pools.
Safe removal of blood clots. Israel’s Ceretrieve has designed and developed CathTrap, a unique catheter for neuro-thrombectomy – the fast and safe removal of blood clots from the brain that are the common cause of strokes. The CathTrap device has an expandable soft tip that enlarges its diameter to encompass the whole clot.
Minimally invasive lung biopsies. Analysis of suspicious lesions in the lungs used to involve surgery. But the new bronchoscopic navigation system at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, now enables Israeli doctors to take biopsies even from the more distant peripheral regions of the lungs – all without having to make an incision.
Robot-guided knee surgery. (TY UWI) Surgeons at Israel’s Galilee Medical Center successfully replaced the knee joints of two Israeli women. They used robots to adapt the implants to the precise anatomical structure of the patients. In addition, the surgeons were able to simulate the surgery in advance and in real time.
Radiology scans can save European lives. Israel’s IMedis (reported here previously) has received European CE approval for its AI-based quality control system for radiology departments. The IMedis system can identify anomalies that may be missed by the radiologist in an initial reading, that may otherwise lead to cancer.
Spray-on skin rolls out to Europe. The breakthrough SpinCare wound protection system from Israel’s Nanomedic (reported here previously) is now being used in hospitals in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. The news was reported in the normally anti-Israel UK Guardian.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/04/spider-man-style-medical-gun-spins-out-skin-substitute-for-burns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJlSm9sjM64 https://nanomedic.com/
Prize for human tissue printer. Israel’s Matricelf has won Calcalist’s StartUp+ competition for its platform that enables 3D printing of tissues and organs. Matricelf developed the technology that Tel Aviv University scientists used to 3D print the first heart produced from human tissue (as reported here previously).
Fifteen uses for Hyperbaric Oxygen. There are three HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) centers in Israel. Citizens can get treatment for 15 conditions including decompression sickness, wound healing, and strokes. But it can potentially also treat PTSD, cerebral palsy, complex pain, fibromyalgia, cognitive decline and even aging.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Vaccinating the disabled. Israeli charity Shalva has launched a mass vaccination campaign for the disabled. In one day, 1,200 men and women with disabilities from across Israel, along with caregivers, therapists and medical staff, were inoculated at the Shalva National Center in Jerusalem.
Vaccine for Arabs & Jews in remote areas. Leumit, one of Israel’s four healthcare organizations, has dispatched mobile units to boost the inoculation program for citizens in remote communities. They vaccinated several hundred at Ofakim in the south and at the Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye in the northern Sharon.
Druze chief of Israeli education programs. Muhana Fares from Israel’s Druze community has been Head of the Bureau for National Programs at Israel’s Ministry of Education since 2014. His task is to double the number of students studying the top level of math and now he also manages Science and Technology Administration.
Israeli-Arab startups graduate. Israel’s Hybrid Accelerator (reported here previously) was set-up by IDF veterans to help budding Israeli-Arab entrepreneurs develop their startups and their products. Its latest graduates include Petwork (ecosystem for pets), GemSight (jewelry & watches try on) and Flare (videogame streaming).
https://www.petworkeco.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX2TEXCs8Z4 https://www.gemsight.io/
Record number of Israel-Arabs join IDF. 1,000+ Israeli Arabs volunteered to serve in the IDF as conscripts or reservists in 2020, twice that in 2019. Most joined after the coronavirus crisis began in March. They include Muslims from Jerusalem and PA controlled areas, Galilee Bedouin and Christian Arabs from northern Israel.
First female head of Intelligence. In another first for Israeli women, deputy commander of the IDF’s 9900th Unit, Lt. Col. R., has been appointed head of the Military Intelligence unit monitoring Iran, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
Protecting UK buses from Covid-19. Israel’s Aura Smart Air (reported here previously) is being widely used to protect UK buses, including the transport of key workers to their places of employment. The system kills the virus and replaces the air on the bus five times an hour. Sensors also monitor air quality and can alert the driver.
Israel delivers 2nd Iron Dome system to US. Israel has delivered a second Iron Dome defense system to the United States. The first was delivered in September (see here previously). Both were delivered on time. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the system would help defend American soldiers against ballistic and air threats.
Computers for Indian children. (TY Hazel) The consulate-general of Israel to South India, in Bengaluru, donated tablet computers to 100 underprivileged children in rural Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The tablets included educational software to help children study at home during the pandemic.
UAE broadcasts Israeli TV news channel. The UAE’s leading telecom group Etisalat has included the Israel-based network i24NEWS in the basic packages of its eLife and Switch TV services at no extra cost. This means that i24NEWS is the first channel broadcast from Israel to be officially available in the United Arab Emirates.
Good stuff happened in 2020. Besides everything reported in this newsletter, this article lists some highlights from last year. The relevant Israeli ones are: – new Middle East peace agreements, fast vaccine development, telemedicine (remote treatment), computers for underprivileged children and progress with solar energy plans.
Sudan signs Abraham Accords. The office of Sudan’s prime minister has confirmed that Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari signed the “Abraham Accords” with visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Garbage to electricity. Jerusalem municipality has authorized the building of a new facility for the sorting and processing of garbage. Located in the Mishor Adumim area between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, it will convert waste residues into energy, for generating electricity.
The next Israeli mission to the Moon. Israel’s SpaceIL has published a video describing its plan to land two spacecraft on the surface of the Moon in 2024. The mothership will orbit the Moon for more than two years while students, scientists and engineers globally will be able to communicate with it and perform experiments.
https://www.spaceil.com/home-page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Apgk9bYKV0 (the new mission)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JMoZJYLBO0&t (background to the original mission)
AI to help athletes with nutrition. Israel’s Newt has developed an Artificial Intelligent platform which tracks a user’s daily habits to keep their diet in check. Newt initially focused on helping amateur athletes achieve their personalized nutrition goals, but anyone can apply its clinical and behavioral elements to their day-to-day life.
Educating children about AI. Israel’s Edgify has authored a book to teach children (and many adults) about Artificial Intelligence. “Edgify – A New School of Thinking in AI Training” follows Goldie the fish as she and her friends try to cross the ocean to a coral paradise by shared learning. See also video about Edgify in Retail.
Developing the car of the future. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Innovation Lab in Tel Aviv aims is to advance state-of-the-art mobility. Its 30 projects with Israeli startups focus on vision sensors, cybersecurity, data, and AI. Israel is one only three Alliance innovation hubs. The others are in the USA and China.
Face recognition for e-scooters. E-scooter provider Bird is to implement face recognition technology from Israel’s AU10TIX. It will help deny access to underage riders and prevent fraud on its platform. An 8-second ID scan upon initial registration confirms the identity of the user. Subsequent rental requests are then checked.
Recycling used facemasks. Most of the 52 billion disposable facemasks produced in 2020 will eventually be thrown away. Israel’s UBQ Materials (reported here previously) now includes Personal Protection Equipment in its recycling process without adversely affecting the reusable thermoplastic material produced.
Where to recharge my electric car? Israel’s Cellopark Technologies will develop and operate a government-run app for electric vehicle drivers to locate the closest charging stations to their location. Station operators in Israel include EVI-Sonol, EV-EDGE, Gingergy and Afcon, but their apps only locate their own charge stations.
Five Hebrew U alumni in top 10 of their field. Stanford University’s world rankings (see last week) included five previous Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professors in the world top 10 of AI, nanotechnology, sociology / anthropology and chemistry. Steve Weiner (now at Weizmann) is No. 1 in the field of historical sciences.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Government fund for early-stage startups. The Israel Innovation Authority has set up a new NIS 80 million fund to encourage investments in early-stage companies. Grants will be given to startups that team up with veteran investors. The aim is to help seed-stage startups developing tech solutions in high-risk fields.
New record for foreign currency reserves. The Bank of Israel has used the strengthening of the Shekel to purchase more foreign currency. The reserves leaped by over $6 billion in the last month of 2020 to a new record of more than $173 billion.
Surge in available tech jobs. The Secret Tel Aviv Job Board, a popular platform used by Anglos and Israelis in Tel Aviv, primarily in the tech sector, has seen a bounce-back to pre-pandemic demand levels, despite Israel entering its fourth lockdown. The board now has over 2,300 jobs available – more than ever before.
Upgrading Greek air force. Israel’s Elbit has won a $1.68 billion contract to build a training center for the Greek air force, in the largest defense deal ever between the two countries. It includes a flight training school, planes, becoming a pilot in Europe simulators and Israeli trainers. The historic contract’s 20-year duration signifies long-term cooperation.
Investing in lifesaving. The Israeli incubator InNegev is dedicated to fostering Israeli innovation in the Negev. It has just made its first major investment in Israel’s SightBit (reported here previously). Sightbit uses AI and computer vision technology to detect and prevent swimmers from drowning off Israeli beaches.
Helping startups make contacts. Israel’s Lusha helps small, medium and large businesses establish a fast and trusted connection with their leads, contacts, and candidates. Lusha is used daily by over 250,000 sales representatives, recruitment managers, and marketers. Clients including Google, Amazon, and Apple.
Bringing cultured meat to Japan. Israel’s Aleph Farms (reported here previously) is partnering with Mitsubishi Corporation’s Food Industry Group to bring cultivated (slaughter-free) meat to the Japanese table. It will help reduce Japan’s reliance on imported food, and to reach its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Transport for elderly Japanese. Japanese insurance giant Sompo and Israeli ridesharing company Via have launched NORAZA – a new app that enables elderly Japanese to share rides, paying with virtual local currency. Japan is trying to reduce car accidents involving the elderly and to reduce traffic congestion.
Buy and sell without cash. Israel’s Shareitt has developed a social trading platform that facilitates the buying and selling of second-hand goods in exchange for Shareitt coins. The platform will trade books, toys, and sports goods, among others. Shareitt has around 10,000 active users who have sold more than 61,000 items.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3885433,00.html https://www.shareitt.com/ (Hebrew)
Smart vertical farms for Ukraine. Israel’s Vertical Field (reported here and here previously) is to set up vertical farming installations at Ukrainian supermarket chain Varus.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Brewing beer at ancient beer-making site. (TY WIN & I24 News) Beer was made on the Golan Heights over 6,000 years ago. Bazelet brewery has started up the industry again using the high-quality water of the region.
Beautifying underserved communities. The Hebrew Wallpaper Project (HWP) is an initiative of The Israel Innovation Fund, to beautify underprivileged areas around Israel. Young artists will be painting large public wall murals in places with limited access to public art, to inspire, uplift and dignify the next generation.
Israeli model on cover of UAE magazine. Israeli model Yael Shelbia (reported here previously) is the first Israeli to appear on the cover of a magazine published in the United Arab Emirates. The Sabbath-observant, IDF soldier will appear in February’s issue of Dubai-based fashion and lifestyle magazine L’Official Arabia.
Israeli NBA star’s birthday gift. Israel’s Deni Avdija scored 11 points to help his team Washington Wizards win their first NBA win of the season. Deni also celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday.
THE JEWISH STATE
The happiest cities. (TY UWI) A recent survey conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics illustrates the adage that “money can’t buy happiness.” Even though residents of central Israel are more affluent and had a higher standard of living, those in the periphery reported much lower levels of loneliness and depression.
EMT talks man down from mosque roof. Avraham – a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT – managed to persuade a young man from committing suicide in the mixed Jewish-Arab Israeli city of Ramle. The story is worth reading for the amazing sequence of coincidences in this real-life drama.
Jews & Arabs fly the Israeli flag in bobsleigh. Israel’s bobsled teams of Jewish AJ Edelman and his Israeli Druze teammates do not expect a medal in the 2022 Winter Olympics. “We have no relevance other than the fact that we wear the Israeli flag…and so because of that, it’s an honor unparalleled that you can never repay.”
Israel cares for Muslim Covid-19 patients. Rabbi Mike Schultz is spiritual care chief at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. With so many Israeli Muslim Arab coronavirus patients, he and his team of 19 Jews, Muslims and Christians helps them with non-health issues, including hopes, dreams, family, community and religion.
Another benefit of vaccination – positiveness. (TY EEJH) This article highlights the relief felt by many of the 1.2 million Israelis that have been recently inoculated against Covid-19 with the Pfizer vaccine. They are now looking forward to their second doses after 3 weeks. https://www.jpost.com/health-science/coronavirus-vaccines-in-israel-a-big-hit-a-year-of-emotion-in-one-vial-653920
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel. www.verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com and a searchable archive www.IsraelActive.com For a free subscription, email a request to [email protected]