This week People of the Pod sheds lights on the Israeli doctors, researchers and entrepreneurs who are working diligently to help find a cure and improve treatment options as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps the globe.
Joining us to discuss these efforts, as well as Israel’s strategies to prevent the spread of the virus, are Dr. Daniel Landsberg, who serves as Regional Medical Director of Maccabi Health Services for an area of 500,000 people, and Dr. Kira Radinsky, Chair and Chief Technology Officer of Diagnostic Robotics.
Landsberg gives a brief update on the drastic and ground-breaking efforts that Israel has taken so far. “The most important thing is not to ignore the threat. It’s coming. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there, so start preparing,” cautioned Landsberg.
“A lot of people aren’t that sick — they only have a cold or a cough — but you don’t want them going around and spreading the disease,” said Landsberg.
Because the disease especially affects the elderly, he said, it is important that plans are in place to communicate with them and ensure they can endure weeks of isolation.
Radinsky and her team have developed new technology which is aiding in identifying patients who are developing symptoms, as well as help them get ready for hospitalization at home.
“The information is delivered as red flags to health services in Israel,” said Radinsky, and is creating a heat map of corona hot spots, which helps medical services identify which areas of the country need intensive care.
In addition to the race for a vaccine, said Radinsky, there are many efforts working on drug repurposing. Data from decades of drug trials is being mined to identify what may be useful in this crisis.
Then, staying in Israel, we speak to Joyce Franco and Stephanie Graber, the creators of the Instagram account, Creatively Quarantined. After a trip to Italy, the pair were forced into isolation and they dreamed up a way to encourage creativity for others in their situation through social media.
“I was thinking of it like a quarantine journal… I was just jamming on how creative quarantine can be,” said Franco. “We were having this really elaborate cheese plate and Steph was like, ‘Show the world how well we’re doing quarantine.'”
Rather than just Netflix and chill, they said, use the time well — and creatively.
Also this week:
The Times of Israel Podcast host Amanda Borschel-Dan — who is hunkering down at home with her six school kids who are “studying” online — decided to look for the humor in the situation.
She phoned up two of Israel’s leading English-speaking stand-up comedians, Benji Lovitt and Yisrael Campbell, to talk about using comedy in dark times. They discussed some of the differences between Israelis’ and US Jews’ use of humor and whether anything is really off limits. Is it ever too soon to joke?