Disinfectant tunnels and 3 other Israeli ideas that may help tackle COVID-19
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Disinfectant tunnels and 3 other Israeli ideas that may help tackle COVID-19

From an air freshener that disinfects closed spaces to a test tube pooling system that can multiply COVID-19 tests by 10, here are a few tools currently being developed

Dr. Izaak Cohen, a researcher at Bar-Ilan University, walking through the sanitation and disinfection tunnel developed by RD Pack which uses his technology; Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, June 2, 2020 (Yoni Reif)
Dr. Izaak Cohen, a researcher at Bar-Ilan University, walking through the sanitation and disinfection tunnel developed by RD Pack which uses his technology; Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, June 2, 2020 (Yoni Reif)

As the coronavirus crisis seems poised to stay with us for the near future, with no vaccine expected in the coming months, a host of Israeli companies and researchers are developing technological tools to make our lives as easy as possible in the meantime, preventing infections and helping authorities get more data and invest fewer resources.

Here are several examples featured on Friday in a report by Channel 12, many of which are still in development and testing stages.

Fresh start

Aura Air is a startup that says it has developed an air freshener that kills the coronavirus with 99.99 percent efficiency.

Its CEO, Aviad Schneiderman, said its product could render indoor spaces safe, as studies around the world show the vast majority of COVID-19 infections happen indoors.

“Our level of disinfection and purification is one of the highest, we know to clear the air of germs, viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi and more,” he said, adding that a trial has been conducted at Sheba Medical Center and will soon start in a school.

Light at the end of the tunnel

A disinfectant tunnel has been developed by the RD Pack firm, which promises the product can wash the coronavirus off your clothes and body without harming the clothes or makeup.

Dr. Eran Avraham, right, and Dr. Izaak Cohen researchers at Bar-Ilan University standing at the entrance of the sanitation and disinfection tunnel developed by RD Pack which uses their technology; Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, June 2, 2020 (Yoni Reif)

The company bases the tunnel on the estimation that the virus stays on surfaces for a certain amount of time and can spread to others.

Its water-based disinfectant includes salt and goes through an electrochemical process that make it “a hundred times stronger than bleach, but safer than bleach.”

One tunnel is currently installed at the entrance to Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium.

10 times more tests?

Ben-Gurion University researchers, in collaboration with the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research & Development, have been trying to find ways to make coronavirus tests more efficient so that more people could be tested quickly.

Dr. Tomer Hertz (Courtesy)

They have developed a pooling system in which various samples are mixed into a series of test tubes. If some tubes show a positive result, the system uses algorithms to analyze the results — knowing whose samples are in each tube — and determines which person or people have the coronavirus.

Massive, rapid testing is seen as a key tool to bring outbreaks under control and stop infection chains quickly.

Test tubes filled with blood samples (Illustrative photo credit: Rebecca Zeffert/Flash90)
Test tubes filled with blood samples (Illustrative photo credit: Rebecca Zeffert/Flash90)

Israel currently conducts between 20,000 and 30,000 daily tests, and researcher Dr. Tomer Hertz says the invention could take that number to over 50,000 and potentially 10 times more than today.

Home visit from afar

Carbyne is a public safety technology company that has developed a call handling system, and since the pandemic began it has tweaked the system to help authorities in Israel and around the world monitor quarantined people to see if they are indeed isolating, saving the need to physically check on them.

If the user agrees, the system can track down the location of the person’s cellphone — including their altitude in the case of multi-story buildings — and connect to the device’s camera to easily verify the quarantine is being kept to, said Carbyne CEO Amir Elichai.

Illustrative. Working on a coronavirus vaccine. (iStock)

The Directorate of Defense Research and Development, known by its Hebrew acronym MAFAT, has in recent weeks successfully developed dozens of technologies that would dramatically decrease the time it takes to detect the coronavirus in suspected carriers, the Defense Ministry said last week.

Various companies have been developing COVID-19 tests that give a result within 30 minutes or even less, but in some cases there are doubts over their accuracy.

Israel’s efforts to make a vaccine include a recent breakthrough at the Israel Institute for Biological Research — even as the country has signed a deal to buy a vaccine that is being developed by the American biotech company Moderna.

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