MPs Highlight Israeli Innovation During Pandemic

On Thursday this week, David Simmonds MP took the opportunity to highlight the value of long-standing agreements between local authorities, UK universities and counterparts abroad, such as the British Israel Research Academic ​Exchange Partnership which funds a variety of research projects. One example is the Regenerative Medicine Initiative which uses cutting-edge research in stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies to tackle cardiovascular and liver disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other diseases.

Work on a BIRAX project

He is one of a number of British MPs who are keen to see the UK benefit from the strength of technological development and innovation in Israel, particularly with reference to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He recently asked the Department for International Trade what steps were being taken to ensure that the UK benefits from Israeli thermal scanning technologies to detect the virus; while Greg Smith asked the same department what steps were being taken to facilitate exports from Israeli companies that are developing technologies to tackle the pandemic. 

They were both assured that the British Embassy in Tel Aviv is following Israeli research and innovation related to COVID-19 closely, including that in the technology sector. The government has facilitated exchanges between United Kingdom and Israeli public health and scientific experts to discuss testing, epidemic management strategies, treatments and vaccine research, as well as co-operation on medical equipment.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been asked similar questions. Scott Benton asked what assessment the department has made of the effectiveness of Israel’s use of plasma samples obtained by Magen David Adom from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 on patients with severe symptoms of that disease. He was told that an assessment has not been made yet but that all international evidence on the use of convalescent plasma will be considered when the results of the trials are available.

Christian Wakeford asked a more general question: whether British officials have held discussions with representatives of Israeli medical technology companies on the use and importation of medical technologies developed in that country to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. 

Jo Churchill replied that the Department is regularly in discussions with other countries on a wide range of issues relating to COVID-19, including Israel. The Department will continue to work with other countries throughout the crisis and beyond.

Another Conservative MP, Tom Hunt, had a question for the Education Secretary, as to whether he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart about Israel’s experience with reopening schools during the pandemic. Education Minister Nick Gibb emphasised that official discussions are taking place with counterparts in other countries on all aspects of the education response to the pandemic.