As most of us are sheltering at home to fight the spread of COVID-19, it can be a struggle to stay on track with even the most basic things. We are being reminded simultaneously that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined from The Plague, and that if we don’t achieve basic things like changing out of our pajamas that it’s completely understandable. There are people who thrive in chaos, and those are usually the ones that are achieving new and great things under quarantine. Throughout history, some of our most desperate times have spurred some of humanity’s greatest innovations. Will this global pandemic be the same?
The Boston Smallpox outbreak led to some of the first inoculations, which eventually led to the technology that gave us vaccines. The Spanish Flu gave us advances in public health and eventually the first vaccine for influenza.
During the last several weeks and months, scientists and engineers have worked tirelessly to ensure that patients have what they need to have the best chance of survival. Ventilator valves that ordinarily cost $10,000 have been 3D printed for $1, and CPAP masks have been adapted to serve as oxygen delivery vessels using snorkel masks for less severe cases. Simpler and less expensive ventilators are being designed and could end up being produced much more quickly and with considerably less cost than traditional models.
Additionally, distilleries that typically produce whiskey, gin, and vodka, have retooled and begun producing hand sanitizer, initially for first responders and later for the general public. As a shortage of masks has caused alarm, companies are stepping up to make masks from new and different materials that are naturally antimicrobial.
Smart devices are being used to track the spread of the disease through monitoring where our cell phones go, temperatures taken from smart thermometers, and more. As this pandemic rages on, humanity is answering the call to fight it with all available means – and some that are fresh off being just pipe dreams.
Learn more about how pandemics spur innovation from the infographic below.
Source: Top Masters in Public Health
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