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“When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Creative”: Israel’s Innovations for Pandemic Relief

By Randy Pinsky

As we come up to the second anniversary of the pandemic, we can reflect on what has happened over the past 24 months. Skyrocketing numbers of cases led to lockdowns the world over in efforts to flatten the curve. Normalized mask use and the development of vaccines dramatically changed the arena, though resistant variants remain a cause for concern. 

Known for its medical and technological prowess, Israel has historically been at the forefront of innovation. 

And COVID-19 is no exception. 

From highly effective air purifiers and preventative nasal sprays, to locally developed oral vaccines and even a potential anti-COVID drug, Israel has taken up this challenge with awe-inspiring outcomes. 

Stopping the Virus at Its Source

From the very start, it was clear virus transmission was airborne, necessitating the donning of masks. As demonstrated in a 2020 Hong Kong research paper, only one of the 7,324 identified cases in China between January and February 2020 was contracted outdoors. Indoor air quality thus became a priority, particularly with government directives to ‘stay home, stay safe’ (Keeping COVID-19 Out). 

Israeli innovators have developed a number of devices effective at purifying indoor spaces. ProtectAir, for instance, continually releases minute amounts of sterilizing chlorine dioxide into the air; sufficient for deactivating the virus. The ingenuity relies on the chemical’s ability to attack the coronavirus’ crown-shape upon landing on one of its outer spikes, as opposed to other methods which need to get to its core in order to disable it, explained co-founder Tsvi Dahan. As such, it is both a safe and very efficient intervention (4 Israeli Air-Purifying Inventions).

Researchers have also discovered that ultraviolet-C (UVC) light can be effective in reducing virus propagation. As a recognized disinfectant, UVC has the potential to be a “particularly efficient, easily deployable, and economically affordable way” to inactivate the virus indoors (4 Israeli Air-Purifying Inventions).

Finally, the Aura Air AI tech solutions startup has developed a highly intelligent air filtration and disinfection system. Not only can it filter out dangerous particles and viruses, it also effectively purifies the air. This therefore has much potential application for high traffic enclosed spaces such as hospitals, schools and theaters. 

Bam! Right in the Nose

An Israeli innovation team has developed a nasal spray that coats the inside of the nose with a gel that eliminates the virus right from the outset. As the dangerous virus is stopped before it can even reach the lungs, this is a critical game-changer. 

Dr. Gilly Regev, the Israeli-Canadian co-founder and CEO of SaNOtize, noted that the Enovid Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray has proven effective against the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as its variants. Not only is it extremely effective, it is fast-acting, taking effect within minutes of application.

The drug is revolutionary as it both prevents virus transmission and propagation, as well as reduces the effects for those who have already contracted COVID (SaNOtize Rolls Out Anti-COVID Nasal Spray).

Home-Grown Oral Boosters

From the start, Israel made headlines as one of the first countries to have a fully orchestrated immunization campaign ahead of the US and Europe (World Leader in Vaccinating Against Covid-19) due to its interconnected and digitized health system (Israel’s Successful Vaccination Program). Not only that, but Israel is one of the first countries to offer a fourth booster for the most vulnerable.

Israel has even developed its own vaccines with an oral equivalent; the MigVax-101 oral vaccine through the Israel Science and Technology Ministry’s Migal Galilee Research Institute (Israel Develops Oral Vaccines). Not only does it have equal effectiveness and less potential side effects, these are simple  to make, easier to ship, can be taken at home, and do not have the need for extreme temperature-control (An Israeli Solution to New Variants?). The BriLifevaccine developed by Israel’s Institute for Biological Research has also demonstrated that it provides longer-term protection than the conventional vaccines. 

Why Is This Vaccine Different From Any Other Vaccine?

But if vaccines are already in circulation, why the need for an Israeli version? 

Israeli researchers have approached vaccine development in a way different from their counterparts. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines teach cells to make a protein to trigger an immune response, the Israeli BriLife shot is a “live-virus vaccine in which the spike protein of the vaccine appears to evolve in a manner consistent with the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in nature” (Israel’s COVID Jab).

As a result, “it could potentially be effective against current and future mutations either as a standalone vaccine or a booster” (Israel Develops Oral Vaccines).

The ‘Miracle Drug’

What’s that - a drug to cure the virus? Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center created the EXO-CD24 inhaled medicine which has proven to be extremely effective for patients with moderate to severe conditions (Israel’s Miracle Inhaler). It works by transmitting the CD24 protein to the lung cells and thereby calming the cytokine storm or immune overreaction to the virus that causes most of the problems (Israeli Inventor of Promising COVID Drug).

And this has potential international implications. 

Israeli inventor Dr. Nadir Arber remarked, “We can produce this drug effectively, efficiently and cheaply, so this could be a partial solution for countries that can’t currently afford a vaccination.” The Director of the Health Promotion Center and Integrated Cancer Prevention Center at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, continued, “This is our duty, to bring the message of hope to the entire world” (Israeli Inventor of Promising COVID Drug).

A Message of Hope Indeed

The pandemic has in many ways pulled the world to a halt…but not in Israeli medical and pharmaceutical labs. Through technological innovation, medical ingenuity, and a heck of a lot of chutzpah, there is much hope for battling this virus once and for all. 


[1] Inspired by Charles Gordon’s 2008 book title. 

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