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America’s Covid crisis handler gets award from Sheba Medical Center, where a collaborative preparedness research institute is launching.
“Israel did as much for the US as the US did for Israel during Covid,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci upon receiving the Champion of Global Human Health Award at an April 30 ceremony at Sheba Medical Center, the largest medical center in the Middle East.
Fauci, chief medical adviser to the US president during the pandemic, noted that his last official act of collaboration as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health was signing a memorandum of understanding to establish the Sheba Pandemic Preparedness Research Institute.
The MoU with Sheba, Fauci said, grew out of “collaborations that had begun some time ago but came to fruition during the Covid 19 pandemic.”
The MoU stipulates that Sheba may use NIH-developed scientific methods in combination with Sheba’s blood sample bank to rapidly develop therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and vaccines in anticipation of future pandemics.
Fauci thanked Sheba Medical Center’s director general and former Israeli Defense Forces Surgeon General Dr. Yitshak Kreiss for having been “an excellent partner throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“What we desperately needed was data in real time as to the evolution of the virus, the variants that were there, the impact or not of vaccination including of boosters, the impact of immunity and how long it last. And unfortunately because of the fractured healthcare system that we have in this country, unlike what Sheba has allowed for Israel to have, we did not have that capability, and that was very disturbing,” Fauci said.
“And then a series of almost serendipitous circumstances brought us together in what I have to say was one of the most productive interactions of two nations in the entire Covid-19 pandemic.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, received the Champion of Global Human Health Award from Sheba Medical Center Director General Prof. Yitshak Kreiss. Photo by Ron Sachs/CNPPhoto
Fauci explained that NIAID Chief of the Human Immunology Section Dr. Daniel Douek was on sabbatical at Israel’s Weizmann Institute. When the health crisis arose, he switched his research from HIV to Covid.
Douek’s connections enabled the NIAID to “learn from our colleagues at Sheba things that were not available to us at the time. We were able to make policy decisions about how we would handle vaccinations, boosters and things like that based on the real time data we were getting from Israel, primarily from Sheba,” Fauci said.
Douek, senior scientific adviser for the newly created Sheba Pandemic Preparedness Research Institute, said the establishment of the institute “represents a significant commitment on behalf of both the NIH and the State of Israel. This partnership will make a profound contribution to the discovery of biological countermeasures such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies that will help us avert the next pandemic.”
Kreiss, who personally bestowed the award upon Fauci, added, “At a time when Israel faced exponential growth in deaths from Covid and knowledge was scarce, Dr. Fauci and his team shared information and research which gave us the confidence to be the first country in the world to provide booster shots of the vaccine. It is no exaggeration to say that Dr. Fauci and his team contributed to saving countless Israeli lives through this act alone.”