by: Kathy DeGagne, BFP Staff Writer
Israel has gone through the wringer in the past year and a half, dealing with crisis after crisis within a very short period. The nation faced the devastating effects of a pandemic alongside the rest of the world, and at the same time, fought a war with terrorists in Gaza; went through a fourth national election within two years; faced growing saber-rattling from Iran, Lebanon and Syria; and is now enduring an uphill battle on the international front: an increase in global anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, amid all that chaos, Israel has brought a message of tikvah, hope, to the world.
The Jewish pursuit of hope is endued with a mixture of energy, ingenuity, compassion and excellence, and the proof is in the innovations coming out of Israel. While much of the global population was hunkered down in a safe place, some wonderful things were being developed by Israeli know-how. The Jewish people have proven their historic bred-in-the-bone resolve and their capacity for thinking outside the box, and out of that resilient spirit has blossomed creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Israeli ingenuity is known for its ability to adapt to unforeseen situations on a dime, a trait cultivated by its young soldiers during combat situations and carried over into their professional lives. Israel quickly adjusted to meet the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, and Israeli scientists jumped into the global race against time for a treatment and a vaccine.
Though not first out of the gate, like Pfizer and Moderna, Israeli labs started developing at least six different vaccines, several in pill or droplet form. An oral vaccine can bring hope to many people in underdeveloped countries, like India, which don’t always have access to vaccinations or qualified medics to administer them. Even with vaccinations increasing, there is still an urgent need for COVID treatments. Thirteen drugs for respiratory disease caused by COVID are also being developed in Israel. One company has focused on a hassle-free detection test for the virus where a person can give a breath sample at a “sniffer station” and receive results within 30 seconds.
Another start-up company has developed a method to chemically treat face masks that protect against the virus. The masks are washable and reusable, able to neutralize the virus even after 50 washes and are completely safe.
Innovations in the medical field continue to come fast and furious, and Israeli companies have been highlighted on some of the “most innovative” lists in the past year.
The pandemic has shifted the focus of many Israeli innovators, researchers and medical start-ups, and multiple medical innovations are reshaping and accelerating the way the world does health care. Over 1,000 Israeli start-up companies are focusing on digital health care, and then helping other countries get their medical systems online.
Health care is seeing an increased load from aging patients, and medical professionals are stretched thin, already having to juggle the extra demands of the pandemic. To the rescue comes home diagnostic equipment developed by Israeli start-ups allowing medical tests to be done from the comfort of home. One company uses smartphones as a hi-tech diagnostic device. Another uses smartphones to analyze CT scans and warn patients who may be at risk for impending strokes. This improvement in digital health has already been a boon for the thousands of doctors presently using the technology.
Drones have been used extensively in military arsenals to fight wars and target enemies, but Israel is now using them to bring life. To avoid the traffic jams in Israeli cities, drones are delivering medical supplies and medications directly to those in need. Robots are now being used to dispense medications and eliminate the possibility of human error. The use of robots will also keep medical personnel from accidental exposure to harmful therapies and accurately measure dosages for chemotherapy. Artificial intelligence is being used to analyze diagnostic scans and spot abnormalities in breast cancer, osteoporosis, aneurysms and brain-bleeds.
Medicine is not the only sector impacted by innovation. A big step up from Alexa, a personal robot can order groceries, call for help in an emergency, make a home into a very smart home, and even read a child a bedtime story.
On the eco front, one start-up company has developed a way to produce fabrics and bioplastics from plant waste. Another is converting household garbage into recyclable plastic. Yet another start-up is focused on developing environmentally friendly building materials to make human impact less intrusive on marine and animal life.
For countries around the world that experience chronic water shortages, Israel has developed a device that can transform air into drinkable water. Israeli-made water purification devices are already being used in humanitarian disasters and in developing countries such as India, Vietnam and Sierra Leone.
Making the World a Better Place
As a techno-giant on the world stage, Israel knows that technology is not the entire answer to the world’s crises. Their expertise in the technology sector is merely a means to an end, guided by their commitment to tikkun olam, offering healing to the people of the world. Despite facing their own COVID challenges and dealing with hostile countries on their very doorstep, Israelis continue to ardently pursue the kind of innovation designed to make the world a better place, and in doing so, have built a thriving, hope-filled state that resounds with purpose. This is where they’re called to be; this is what they’re called to do. What exciting innovation will come out of Israel next? We can only watch and marvel.
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