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COVID exchange

NEXT month’s visit to Israel by some of Australia’s foremost public health specialists on a mission to exchange knowledge with their Israeli counterparts is a welcome development that will undoubtedly assist both countries in improving their response to COVID-19 and to other future pandemics.

The Australian delegation will include Professor Sharon Lewin and Dr Kerry Chant, both highly recognisable faces due to their leadership positions in guiding Australians through the upheavals of the past two years.

Lewin, who is Jewish, is director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and also co-chairs the National COVID-19 Health and Research Advisory Council. Chant is NSW chief health officer. Professor Allen Cheng is former co-chair of the ATAGI COVID-19 Working Group.

Professor Nigel Crawford is a noted vaccine expert and director of Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination in the Community (SAEFVIC), a vaccine safety and clinical immunisation research group based at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

They will be joined by others who have helped steer public policy on the pandemic.

Kudos for the September 4-8 mission also needs to go to AUSiMED, an Australian not-for-profit, which fosters collaborative biomedical research and knowledge exchange between clinicians and scientists in Australia and Israel.

The visitors will engage with department heads in the Israeli Ministry of Health and clinicians and academics from Israel’s most credentialled universities and hospital networks. The list includes Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, the Weizmann Institute, Sheba Medical Centre, Hadassah Medical Centre, Tel Aviv Ichilov Medical Centre and Clalit Research Institute.

We strongly endorse the observations of AUSiMED’s chair Antony Cohen that both the Australian visitors and their Israeli hosts have a lot to teach one another and a lot to learn from one another.

The Australians will meet top Israeli public health officials and practitioners to further develop personal networks between Israel and Australia and expand the knowledge base on this pandemic and potentially other infectious diseases in the future.

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