The Jerusalem Post

‘COVID-19 is a paradigm for how scientific miracles can happen’


COVID-19 could be a lifesaver for millions of people, even as it has doomed the lives of many others.

Israel is witnessing a miracle as the number of people infected with the Delta variant continues to rise but the number of serious cases remains relatively stable. Only three to five people out of every 1,000 who are infected are developing serious infection, according to a Thursday night report by N12, compared to 20 to 30 out of 1,000 at the peak of the pandemic.

The country saw the fewest COVID-19 deaths this month since the crisis started, and less than 1% of people being screened for the virus are testing positive – as opposed to more than 10% at the peak of the COVID crisis – and the majority of them are unvaccinat­ed.

The scientific miracle that has halted the pandemic is the mRNA coronaviru­s vaccine, with which the country has inoculated nearly 5.6 million citizens.

The sequence of the novel virus was published in January 2020 and less than a year later there was a wildly successful vaccine, overturnin­g a worldwide pandemic in any country that could get access to the tiny vials of liquid health developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

“The reversal is amazing,” said Prof. Chaim Putterman, associate dean at Bar-Ilan University’s Azrieli Faculty of Medicine and director of the Galilee Medical Center Research Institute. “From a pandemic that threatened to upset

the world order at the magnitude of the Spanish flu, we now have a pandemic that is containabl­e for the most part – something you can live with.”

And as the vaccines arrive in other countries, they are starting to see similar results.

Putterman refers to the developmen­t of mRNA vaccines as the “moonshot moment” of 2020.

More than 50 years ago, US president John F. Kennedy issued a challenge to NASA: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

NASA scientists thought it would be impossible, but Kennedy told them to just get it done. And on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11’s lunar module Eagle touched down and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

The United States government paid a lot of money to send a person to the moon and the world is still benefiting from those technologi­es, some of which are now part and parcel in our daily lives, Putterman said.

Today, moonshot thinking has come to mean not accepting anything as impossible or aiming to achieve what others believe is generally unattainab­le.

President Richard Nixon proposed a moonshot for cancer in 1971: “the same kind of concentrat­ed effort... that took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dread disease,” he said.

Washington invested a tremendous

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