New Israeli drug may be world’s first to successfully treat Covid-19

Initial test group shows 29 of 30 patients treated with new cancer drug recovered after being seriously ill with coronavirus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Researchers at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital have discovered that a new cancer drug has been successfully used to treat patients seriously ill with the coronavirus, Kan News reported Friday.

The drug EXO-CD24 is based on a biological protein normally associated with cancer research that is known to calm the body’s immune system, which in the second stage of coronavirus attacks itself and causes severe breathing problems.

The treatment developed by Professor Nadir Arber of the Integrated Cancer Prevention Center at the hospital was tested on 30 patients in moderate and serious condition suffering from the virus with a 95% positive result.

Of the 30 patients in the test group, 29 showed a significant improvement within two days of receiving the drug and were released from the hospital three to five days later. Another patient also recovered, but took a few days longer, the hospital reported.

Arber said EXO-CD24 is inexpensive and is given once daily for five days, being introduced to the body using an inhalator so that the protein released in the lungs calms the immune system, which stops attacking itself and eases the respiratory suffering of the patients.

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“To this day, despite endless efforts, there is no drug that has been proven effective in treating corona,” the hospital told Kan. “Even if the vaccines perform their function, and even if no new mutations are produced, then in one way or another the corona will remain with us.”

“EXO-CD24 is an innovative, blue-and-white, goal-oriented drug, developed on the basis of many years of research in Prof. Nadir Arber’s laboratory,” the hospital said, adding that the treatment is targeted at patients in serious condition in order to prevent their deterioration.

“The preparation is given locally, works extensively and has no side effects. It is an advanced preparation, which can be produced quickly and efficiently and at a very low cost, produced in any pharmaceutical facility in the country, and in a short time all global consumption can be supplied,” explained Prof. Arber.

The hospital requested Health Ministry permission to extend the trial to more patients, Ynet reported.

Lockdown extended

Also Friday, the government approved the extension of Israel’s national lockdown over the weekend.

“The lockdown will continue until Sunday morning. I ask that the public take very strict care to follow the directives and to go and be vaccinated,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “The vaccines work. The more people who are vaccinated, with emphasis on the 50+ age group, the more we will be able to gradually, cautiously and responsibly open the economy.”

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As of Sunday morning, schools will remain closed but the restriction on Israelis moving more than one kilometer from their home will be lifted, workplaces that do not receive the public can open, one-on-one services like hair salons can resume business, and restaurants can offer take-away service instead of delivery-only.

Despite the continued lockdown, infections in Israel remain high . The Health Ministry reported another 7,168 new cases in the past day with the number of those hospitalized only dropping slightly. Overnight, the death toll in Israel passed the 5,000 mark; the number of those succumbing to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic is at 5,019.

Of Israel’s 9.3 million population, 3.4 million have received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, while 2 million have received both the required shots with results showing the vaccine as being very effective. On Thursday, the country expanded vaccinations with the goal of completely inoculating citizens aged 16 and older within the coming months.