Innovation or Innovative Background as a Concept
Emerging Technology Medicine

3 Powerful Discoveries Inspired by COVID-19

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June 26, 2020
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Emergency ventilators, hands-free door handles, and antiviral fabric help shape the way we move forward amidst a pandemic.

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Positivity Out of Difficulty

As the world continues its battle to reduce the spread of COVID-19, specific individuals and organizations are embracing the situation as an opportunity to evolve their offerings. New products will change life as we know it forever. However, innovation like this is not unprecedented. Pandemics have been springboards for creativity in the past. Discoveries, inventions, and even famous theories have come about during such challenging times.

These days, we see firsthand how disease outbreaks alter how we interact and perceive life around us. While fear and hopelessness paralyze many, others are motivated to proffer actionable solutions to our new hardships.

Pandemics do not merely happen out of the blue. The more we learn and evolve, the more prepared we will be in the future. In this article, we will discuss a few innovations that are helping us prevail in our global battle along with their possible implementations.

A Storied History of Disease and Invention

History shows several accounts of how epidemics sparked the introduction of new medical procedures. Smallpox inspired vaccine development in the 15th century thru a process known as variolation or inoculation. This method involved immunizing individuals against infection by using material taken from a patient or recently inoculated individual. Although a dangerous practice, it remains the foundation on which the working principles and creation of modern vaccines presently stand.

Living through an early quarantine experience during the Great Plague of England (1665 to 1666) similar to what we are going through now, Sir Isaac Newton formulated his theory of gravity. He labeled his year of isolation the “year of wonders.”

As you can see, tough times can kindle creativity.

Inventions Inspired by COVID-19

1. Emergency ventilators

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise worldwide, the availability of ICU ventilators is more crucial than ever. To address this new challenge, Dr. Rhys Thomas, an innovative thinker from Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales worked with CR Clark & Co (an engineering company) to create a makeshift ventilator that could assist with breathing and clear a patient’s room of virus particles “…ensuring that the patient only breathes purified air.” Dr. Thomas states that his emergency ventilator is not a replacement for ICU ventilators, but it certainly proves useful when encountering an influx of patients in need. A recovering COVID-19 patient in Llanelli, Wales, recently documented using this emergency ventilator in the management and treatment of his infection.

The Welsh government has ordered the mass production of the emergency ventilators.

2. Hands-free door handles

Door handles, in continual use by everyone, have been identified as one most common ways to transfer COVID-19 from one person to another.

As we continue to reexamine and reimagine our approach towards personal hygiene, dirty door handles present a conundrum. Well, how about hands-free door handles?  This invention was inspired by the wife of a gentleman named Wyn Griffith. She visited a hospital and, despite religiously sanitizing her hands, contracted COVID-19 from a door handle. 

Griffith designed a prototype “arm” that attaches to an existing handle with a crook that opens the door. If used universally, his invention will minimize the contact between hand and door, thus keeping us all safer from infection. He even made his designs available by placing them online so anyone interested could 3D print them.

3. Virus killing snood (or face wrap)

British Workwear is manufacturing Virustatic Shield snoods. Aimed to trap and kill 96% of viruses, the product features a combination of patented antiviral fabric that protects against pathogens like COVID-19. It comes equipped with an antiviral coating that kills germs on contact, is safe to touch, and protects critical penetration points like the ears, mouth, and nose.

Although the incredible technology used in these snoods existed since 2011, it was recently deployed en masse as a response to the spread of COVID-19.

Conclusion

COVID-19 has caused a time of global uncertainty and pain. However, not everything sprouting from the pandemic is negative. Creative and innovative as ever, human beings are inventing some fantastic things that will alter life as we know it.

Let us know what you think by leaving your comments below. Kindly share this post and we would love to hear from you soon.


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SOHAIL MERCHANT
Miami, FL

Medical Doctor (M.D.); Research Fellow at Lumen Foundation Artificial Intelligence Division

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