As 2020 finally, thankfully comes to a close, NoCamels is revisiting the articles that resonated most with our readers over this past year amid a life-changing pandemic that has devastated lives, countries, and economies.
As people sought more information on the global crisis and innovations that could help us cope and possibly recover, NoCamels published hundreds of articles on Israeli technologies inventions, creations, and initiatives, highlighting medical solutions, economic consequences and social aspects of the pandemic, and even injecting a little humor.
Here are our some of our most popular articles for this unforgettable year.
This guest post written by an analyst with Pitango Venture Capital proved to be very popular with readers since it was published in mid-March, a week into Israel’s first lockdown.
The piece took a deep dive into the industries that experienced unprecedented growth as the spread of the global pandemic gained pace across the world, upending existing work structures, health care, education, leisure, and relationships.
In April, Tel Aviv University’s Professor Jonathan Gershoni of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology announced that he was awarded a US patent for his innovative vaccine design for the corona family of viruses that targets their Receptor Binding Motif (RBM).
In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the RBM is part of its “spike” protein, a major viral surface protein that it uses to direct how the virus engages and interacts with cells of the body and to bind to a receptor “like a key that has to fit into a keyhole,” Prof. Gershoni told NoCamels at the time.
The spike protein contains about 1,200 amino acids and the work has focused on finding the “weak spots.” The team has already identified the 50 amino acids that make up the RBM.
Gershoni and his team have been working on coronaviruses since 2004, around the time of the first SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak caused by SARS-CoV. In September, the team was awarded a grant for further research.
Almost two decades ago, Israel’s scientific and agricultural communities embarked on a unique journey to revive a type of date palm tree that existed in Judea 2,000 years ago and would produce fruit from that time.
Dr. Sarah Sallon, a researcher of natural medicine, and Dr. Elaine Solowey, who runs the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, were two of the leading initiators of this project and were among the few to actually taste these dates from back in the times of Jesus and the Maccabees, after a landmark harvest this summer.
In late February, just as the coronavirus was hitting the rest of the world after spreading first in China in late 2019, Israeli scientists announced that they had just completed the development of a new vaccine for a deadly virus affecting poultry that could be adapted for human use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
At the time, just over 90,000 people had been infected, a far cry from the over 80 million people who have contracted the virus as of this month (with over 40 million recoveries) and the deaths of nearly two million.
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Since then, a number of new vaccine candidates emerged, including an Israeli vaccine, and the inoculation drive is underway across the world.
Israel is currently leading the world, with a vaccination rate of 7.74 doses administered per 100 people. The country has vaccinated nearly 700,000 people in under 10 days since the vaccination drive began with the Pfizer/BioNtech shot.
In March, just as Israelis were getting used to a new normal of working, educating and shopping at home, some notable dark humor emerged on social media with hilarious puns, cartoons, and memes making the rounds.
“Nothing brings people together like a laugh,” Kandi Abelson, a comedian and writer who skewers life in Israel, told NoCamels’ Viva Sarah Press at the time. “Coronavirus memes are super important. I’m always looking for ways to make people smile and laugh.”
Press followed up a few months later with media research that showed the importance of humor in uncertain times.
In early May, as the global race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 was underway, the Israel Institute for Biological Research‘s (IIBR) announced that as part of its efforts to develop a vaccine, it had uncovered a potential antibody treatment for the disease.
In a scientific study conducted by the institute, the antibody treatment had neutralized the virus. The Netherlands had published a similar study at the time.
Israeli startup Sonovia came onto the scene earlier this year with novel technology for an anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric that it says could stem the spread of the virus.
Based in Ramat Gan, Sonovia’s patented technology was originally developed as a bacteria-fighting nanoparticle finishing technology by Israeli scientists at the lab of Professor Aharon Gedanken from Bar Ilan University. The technology mechanically infuses metal oxide nanoparticles onto textiles during an ultrasonic-assisted impregnation process with the specialized chemical compound turning the textiles into highly effective blocks against bacteria and fungi.
Sonovia has since gone on to manufacture and sell masks embedded with the technology and has cited studies showing it can neutralize over 90 percent of the coronavirus.
Like in other parts of the world, Israeli designers and entrepreneurs have gotten creative during this time, delivering new creations both from the fashion and textile sector and from the high-tech, health, and innovation sectors that have always proven that necessity is the mother of invention.
From masks for fashion fiends to rechargeable masks for hospital workers, we rounded up some of the notable face mask offerings from Israel.
From patented healthier sugar to dairy-free yogurts, meatless “meat,” and vertical produce farms, the Israeli companies in this round-up from February 2020 were recognized for some incredible innovations in the agriculture and food tech industry.