Coronavirus update

COVID-19 and Travel to Israel

After months of speculation and hand-wringing, we are finally getting some answers.

COVID-19 closed borders and sent the entire world into panic.

Ironically, this panic has shut down travel which otherwise would have allowed you to visit Caesarea Philippi. Why is that ironic? Because Caesarea Philippi is also known as Banias, which is an Arabic derivation from the name of the region “Panias” and where the temple of Pan once stood. The word panic comes from the god Pan.

Though there is a lot more to say about Banias and Caesarea Philippi, even if you wanted to visit that special place, you can’t. The skies are mostly closed, and tourists are forbidden entry. We’ve been asking when skies will open and how it will look to receive tourists again—finally, we have some answers.

Recently the main international airport of Israel announced that it will be accepting proposals for companies to provide coronavirus testing at the airport. Along with this, the spokesman stated that tourists would be screened upon entry to Israel, be isolated for 24 hours and then be allowed to continue traveling [1]. Finally, a reasonable plan.

For the average tourist from America in particular, the day of arrival is spent travelling to the hotel and eating dinner, with actual touring starting the next day.

Testing is improving rapidly with some tests taking as little as 45 minutes and one test showing 90% accuracy that takes less than one minute! [2]

There is even an Israeli delegation, which includes the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Health Ministry, and Foreign Affairs, travelling to India right now! They are travelling to test and refine four promising new COVID-19 diagnostic methods. [3]

“DDR&D head Danny Gold said the rapid tests could be used in ‘hospitals, malls, everywhere, so the economy can run again.’” [4]

“An Israeli company that developed a 45-75 minute testing kit believes that it could be the key to ensuring that Israel’s hospitals do not crack in the winter. It could also enable Israel to reopen events, theaters, and other spaces where large crowds gather… ‘We could enable large, multi-participant events.’” [5]

Hallelujah! We could have large, multi-participant events AND allow tourists into the country. It is entirely within reason to believe that we could have tourists arrive and be tested at the airport, then awake with results and be able to continue on their tour … just like they did before COVID-19!

But what if you test positive? Amazingly, there is very good news on that front as well.

“Researchers at the Hebrew University and New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center believe they could potentially downgrade COVID-19’s severity into nothing worse than a common cold.” [6] They are led by my neighbor Professor Yaakov Nahmias who says that an existing FDA approved drug called Tricor caused the cells to start burning fat. The result was that the virus almost completely disappeared within only five days of treatment.

Basically, I can get tested upon arrival and, if clean, continue on my merry way the next morning. If, by some bizarre circumstance, I test as ill, I take Tricor and am well within five days.

Amazingly the good news doesn’t stop there. Even the long-term considerations for the higher risk individuals are finally becoming clearer. Vaccines are being developed worldwide, with almost 200 different options in the pipeline.

One of the vaccines in this pipeline is from the Israeli Institute of Biological Research, where they have successfully had hampsters develop the neutralizing antibodies that prevent the coronavirus from attacking cells. [7]

But we aren’t waiting for our labs alone to solve the issue. Israel recently cut a deal to receive four million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine candidate from America. [8]

“The company is preparing to carry out a Phase 1/2 clinical trial through Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School to test the safety, side effects and best dose of the new vaccine. If the trial proceeds as expected, the vaccine will be the first of its kind to get this far. Already, the vaccine has been tested on mice, rats, rabbits and pigs to 100% success rate.”

If all this seems fantasy and unlikely to actually result in opening Israel to tourism, I would love to point you eastward where an even less likely country has reopened. Reporting “on-scene” is Israeli’s very own – Nas Daily

For those who love to delve into topics very deeply, we’ve also assembled some additional resources that you can look through and get more information.

The FDA program for accelerating COVID-19 Treatments (CTAP):

Harvard Medical School’s publication about treatments for COVID-19

World Health Organization’s list of COVID-19 Vaccine candidates at of July 24, 2020 (Click download)

We thought you might want to hear some good news, for a change. Please continue to pray for the skies to open and for healthy tourism to be restored. We want our Yosher Tours travelers to experience the reality of Israel, including both the significant history as well as the equally important present day life that goes forward every day.