"No one is safe until everyone is safe, the virus knows no borders," Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe, told over 270 participants from 53 countries attending a recent online FutureMed 2020 Conference." In his concluding remarks, he said: "Israel has a lot to share."
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen over 200 new startups and technologies advancing the future of medicine worldwide. Designing approaches to trace populations, leveraging digital health technology and the race for a vaccine are topics discussed in multiple international forums.
For over 20 years, Jodie Cohen consulted to multinational companies on their political engagement and has written for pharmaceutical, med-tech, and healthcare companies. How is one of the planet's smallest countries helping to tackle the world's biggest challenge? Cohen has used her area of expertise to respond to the question with a new book, "Tikkun Olam: Israel vs COVID-19."
Divided into five chapters, the book features more than 30 Israeli innovations developed since the COVID-19 outbreak until May 2020. Numerous black and white images complement the impressive stories, yet the case studies selected for her overview are not overly technical.
Cohen begins with the first Israeli tracing app for COVID-19. At the onset of the virus, United Hatzalah realized the potential to use their mobile location-tracking technology with publicly available Ministry of Health information of reported cases. One weekend of intense work with developer Uri Feldman and the app Trackvirus was launched in mid-March. The free app was downloaded 350,000 times in the first two months. Dov Maisel, VP of Operations, led the project, as United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer was seriously ill with the novel coronavirus in the United States.
Beer, who recovered from COVID-19 in April in Miami, was hospitalized in Miami University Hospital, where he was sedated and put on a respirator for a total of 30 days. After recovering enough to enable him to travel, he returned to Israel and is now well enough to donate plasma.
Technion graduate and startup founder Kira Radinsky's algorithms had successfully predicted cholera outbreaks in Angola and Cuba. Realizing her platform could be easily adapted to track the spread of the virus, the COVID360 system was developed. Provided free of charge to Israel's four health funds, Diagnostic Robotics uses artificial intelligence to analyze the patient's symptoms. Radinsky's was one of the Israeli technologies featured in the medical technology section of FutureMed 2020 Conference.
I have spent hours and hours following of the way Israeli defense and startups retooled and adapted to the pandemic health crisis. The author has taken examples of some of the most impressive breakthroughs and shared them in an informative and easy to read paperback.
Cohen stated: "It is fascinating how a tiny country the size of New Jersey, with limited natural resources, constant and aggressive regional opponents, and a population numbering a mere 9.1 million, has innovated so hugely and consistently, particularly in this stunning circumstance."
In these uncertain and dynamic times, where Kluge warns of the current dangerous "infodemic" - misinformation spread on social media, it was a pleasure to read a positive and enlightening book.
Important Disclaimer from the author and publisher: This is not a book for those seeking official information about the virus and no healthcare advice is suggested within, consult your local healthcare providers.
Title:Tikkun Olam: Israel vs COVID-19 Publisher:Minterne
ISBN:9789655992212 Pages:144 Paperback: $11.99 US; eBook:$3.99