Having written about the coronavirus since it first arrived in Israel in the middle of March, this has now become personal. One of my daughters was diagnosed with COVID-19 (thankfully she feels well) and we have all been staying inside for far too long.
Add to that, the forthcoming second lockdown, and this pandemic is getting increasingly frustrating. And for far too many people, it is not just frustrating – it is devastating.
So it was with relief that I saw three pieces of promising news coming from Israel this week on the treatment, vaccine and partnership fronts.
Firstly, biopharmaceutical company Kamada announced the interim results from its Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial in Israel. Kamada believes it was the first company in the world to complete the manufacturing of a coronavirus drug from antibodies from people who have had COVID-19. It then announced it had achieved another world first, becoming the first company to clinically test such a product.
The potential treatment is being assessed at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, on non-ventilated COVID-19 patients with pneumonia. The interim results show that within 24-48 hours of receiving a single dose of the potential treatment, 90% of patients demonstrated an improvement in symptoms, and were subsequently discharged from hospital roughly 4.5 days after receiving the dose.
According to Kamada’s CEO, Amir London, topline results are expected to be announced in January 2021 and the plasma-derived hyperimmune immunoglobulin (IgG) product will also be tested to see if it can help prevent people from getting COVID-19.
Secondly, immunotherapy biotech company Vaxil-BIO announced positive results for an animal study of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The study began in mid-July at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Three injections were given to mice, which then went on to develop antibodies ten days after the final injection.
David Goren, Vaxil’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, confirmed that the company will now weigh next steps to continue to produce more data, with a view to achieving approval to launch a clinical trial. Vaxil expects to provide a further update within the next two months.
Finally, following the announcement of the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and UAE leading investment firm, APEX National Investment, said they have signed a preliminary agreement to jointly promote healthcare technologies. The memorandum of understanding focuses on medical innovation, including the battle against COVID-19.
Partnership working is crucial if we are to tackle the coronavirus effectively across the world, and Sheba’s Director-General, Professor Yitzhak Kreiss, has said the hospital is “proud to be the first Israeli hospital to sign such an historic agreement with a renowned company in the UAE.”
While we celebrate both peace and the Jewish New Year in this momentous week, let’s pray that the year 5781 sees successful treatments, vaccines and further partnerships being developed to help defeat this terrible pandemic.
You can find out more about Kamada, Vaxil-BIO and Sheba Medical Center in ‘Tikkun Olam: Israel vs COVID-19’, available on Amazon and at other online and retail stores around the world.