Coronavirus: Greece to test Israeli ‘miracle drug’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen holding a vial of the anti-coronavirus "miracle drug" alongside the project's director Prof. Nadir Arber at Sourasky Medical Center.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
“We would all be very relieved if we could find a drug that could cure the disease itself.”
The largest hospital in Greece will take part in the trials of an Israeli treatment for COVID-19, following the meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.
During the press conference with Mitsotakis, Netanyahu held up a vial that he called a “miracle drug,” adding: “If you’re infected by corona and are seriously ill and have a lung problem, take this, inhale it, and you come out feeling good.”
Netanyahu said that earlier in the day he met with Prof. Nadir Arber, who developed the new EXO-CD24 treatment, and one of the first things Mitsotakis asked was whether Greece could take part in the clinical trials.
Mitsotakis said he was “very happy to have discussed the issue of this new drug that caught the attention of the international press.
“Assuming that we can overcome the regulatory hurdles, Greece would be happy to participate in clinical trials,” he added. “We would all be very relieved if we could find a drug that could cure the disease itself.”
Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) said on Friday that 29 of 30 patients who received the EXO-CD24 treatment recovered in three to five days.
Many COVID-19 deaths are associated with a cytokine storm, which means the immune system begins attacking healthy cells. The EXO-CD24 treatment for COVID-19 is based on exosomes, which are responsible for cell-to-cell communication. The treatment delivers CD24 protein to the lungs, which helps calm down the immune system.
The Israeli and Greek tourism minsters also signed an agreement that would allow tourism exchanges between the countries for people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus, without requiring a quarantine period. In Israel, the vaccination certificate is called the “green passport.”
Mitsotakis said: “Once you lift your travel restrictions, we will be able to let Israeli tourists visit Greece without any additional restrictions.”
The Greek prime minister said he has been a major proponent of a digital vaccination certificate within the EU, but that he wants ones for third parties, as well.
“I anticipate Israel being the first country to be able to offer such a certificate for travel to Greece, because you have been able to vaccinate a larger portion of the population and are moving at a faster pace,” he said. “I am very much looking forward to making these vaccination certificates that will allow you to enter the country.”
The prime ministers touted the strong relationship that has recently developed between Israel and Greece. Mitsotakis, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and other senior officials from Athens have visited Israel several times in the past year, and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi visited Athens in October.
“Athens and Jerusalem – I never tire of saying this – are the ones that laid the foundation of western civilization,” Netanyahu said. “We share common aspirations for building prosperity and security.”
Mitsotakis said the Israel-Greece relationship is “becoming stronger by the day,” and that both countries are “democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean with common interests in stability in the region and common perspectives in terms of what needs to happen to [make the region] peaceful and safe for all countries.”
The Greek prime minister cited an agreement between Greece and Israel for Elbit Systems, an Israeli company, to open an international flight training school in Kalamata, Greece. Elbit will provide the Hellenic Air Force with a combat simulator, similar to the one the Israeli Air Force uses.
Netanyahu said that Mitsotakis had “innovative ideas” to promote the EastMed gas pipeline, from Israel to Cyprus and Greece, likely to be the longest in the world.
Asked if a potential reconciliation between Israel and Turkey would impact Athens’ relationship with Jerusalem, Mitsotakis expressed skepticism that such a resolution was on the way, but said: “This relationship is too important on its own merits to be defined by other actors.”
As for Greece and Turkey, Mitsotakis said: “We’ve had our issues with Turkey, but things seem to be improving, to the extent that we don’t see further aggression.”
Ashkenazi met with Foreign Minister Dendias, also on Monday.
Ashkenazi said his goals for the visit were “to discuss regional and strategic issues and…[to] sign for the first time a vaccine certification, supervised by the Health Ministry…that will secure public health and open the sky to the mutual benefit of both countries.”
Dendias called his visit “a great opportunity to brief, first of all, on the overall situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and then on bilateral issues, and to move forward on our common future.”
Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.