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Interview: We learn much from China in fighting COVID-19 pandemic, says Israeli expert



Israel has learned a lot from China in combating COVID-19 pandemic and hopes there will be more scientific cooperation between Israel and China in the future, an Israeli expert said recently.

If I have to make a list of why we had such good results in Israel, part of it is because we were able to learn from China,” Dina Ben-Yehuda, dean of School of Medicine at Hebrew University, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Commenting on China‘s performance in its fight against the pandemic, she said Chinese physicians and scientists were “wise enough and responsible enough” to publish information, which helped the world save lives.

To her, it’s really important that everybody looks at what happened in China because China is the first country in the world to fight against the pandemic and has a lot of knowledge that “we don’t have yet.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Medicine of Hebrew University has applied full scientific and medical expertise and resources to combating the novel coronavirus, such as designing rapid diagnostic kits, developing vaccine, conducting molecular epidemiology studies to identify susceptible and resistant populations, Ben-Yehuda said.

“Humans now have the first signs of solutions, but we are not there yet,” she said, adding that humans have to be modest since “the virus is stronger than us and the battle is not over.”

While the pandemic has brought adverse effects, good things have also emerged, she said, referring to collaboration.

She stressed the pandemic is a battlefield that leaves no place for competition and everybody has to work together to make changes.

On Israel-China cooperation in COVID-19 research, Ben-Yehuda noticed that through the pandemic the world understands the strength of China‘s medicine and researches. “We really feel that China today is at the top of the world in research,” she said.

Ben-Yehuda said her school is now building a national animal BSL-3 laboratory to be used for experiments in collaboration with China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“Also, we plan to cooperate with Zhejiang University in China to collect big data from both countries to fight diseases, because understanding the differences between patients is the base of precision medicine.”

Ben-Yehuda said her school has started several PHD exchange programs with some Chinese universities, which provide more opportunities for the cooperation between young scientists from Israel and China.

“We will raise generations for whom doing research with China will be part of their day-to-day life.”

“I believe that we will see more and more collaboration from all over the world, and I hope that Israel will be one of the major collaborators,” Ben-Yehuda said.

On a post-pandemic world, the expert believed humans should learn lessons from the crisis and think together on how to avoid the next pandemic.

It’s not only a biological and medical issue, but also a social, psychological and economic one, she stressed.


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