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Abstract

The human response on the ground in the face of global COVID 19 pandemic is an impressive example of how people apply innovative thinking to the design and development of ways to assist themselves and their fellow human. This paper seeks to capture ways that people respond in light of a sudden and global pandemic, where media newsreels will continue to change and reports in an era of mass information consumption will be replaced by the next news-story and potentially forgotten. This paper retrieves almost entirely media information via reported online text and imagery (paragraph or page numbers are not regarded) from around the globe and considers, as well as the innovative and technological efforts being made, the important and crucial role played by those media professionals whose jobs are to bring cutting information to the masses from often the most obscure and inaccessible of places.
Corona Virus Disease (COVID 19): Rapid
human ingenuity through innovation and
technology as a proactive and admirable
response in the storm of a global pandemic
Bruce, T.A. (2020)
Abstract
The human response on the ground in the face
of global COVID 19 pandemic is an impressive
example of how people apply innovative
thinking to the design and development of
ways to assist themselves and their fellow
human. This paper seeks to capture ways that
people respond in light of a sudden and global
pandemic, where media newsreels will
continue to change and reports in an era of
mass information consumption will be replaced
by the next news-story and potentially
forgotten. This paper retrieves, almost entirely,
media information via reported online text and
imagery (paragraph or page numbers are not
regarded) from around the globe and
considers, as well as the innovative and
technological efforts being made, the important
and crucial role played by those media
professionals whose jobs are to bring cutting
information to the masses from often the most
obscure and inaccessible of places.
Keywords: Corona Virus Disease ; Innovation;
Technology; Human Ingenuity; Masks;
Ventilators; Robot Nurses; Media journalism
appreciation; Future-generation salute
Introduction
The concept of innovation is of Greek origin
from the 5th century BC, derived from kainos,
meaning new. The word originally meant
‘cutting fresh into’ (Godin, 2015: p.19).
Innovation is a derivative of the Late Latin
innovationem with a mid-15th century usage as
meaning restoration or renewal (Harper, 2018).
The term’s earlier recorded use is described
by Godin as a word which carried a pejorative
connotation. He writes:
As introducing change to the
established order, innovation was
seen as deviant behaviour, forbidden
and punished. It was through religion
that the concept of innovation first
entered discourse in the Western
World. In seventeenth and eighteenth
century England, documents by the
hundreds made use of innovation to
discuss religion, using the word
explicitly (2012: p.8).
In light of a sudden global COVID 19
pandemic which reared its widely-rooted and
unforgiving head at the beginning of 2020 but
wasn’t acted upon globally en-masse until the
awakening of Spring, individual people tasked
themselves or were tasked, in the innovative
creating of responses to this very real and
biting global social issue. At the hour of the
compiling of this very basic paper the COVID
19 coronavirus has infected 605,311 and
removed the lives of 27,610 (Saturday, March
28, 2020: 10:06am), across 199 countries
(Worldometer, 2020).
Masks
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a global
shortage of face masks, and people around
the world are making their own in response.
Hadden reports:
Face masks are used to protect
people from the novel
coronavirus. N95 respirators are face
masks that block physical particles
that spread COVID-19, like saliva and
mucus, as well as 95% of airborne
particles that spread the illness.
Surgical masks, the other common
type, can block physical particles, but
not necessarily airborne ones. As
global demand increases, companies
are simply running out of face masks.
People are making face masks out of
everything from old t-shirts to 3D
printing technology (Hadden, 2020).
Brewster adds to the complexity of a DIY
response and suggests that home-made cloth
masks stop only three percent of particles,
whereas a medical mask might stop up to 56
percent, whilst also reporting that Department
of Health and Human Services estimates the
United States alone will go through more than
3.5 billion face masks in a single year, with a
national stockpile amounting only a single
percent of this (Brewster, 2020). In China, as
reported upon by Ibbetson, social media posts
have shown people fashioning masks from
grapefruit and melon skins, sanitary towels
and water-cooler bottles, as in Figure 1
(Ibbetson, 2020).
Figure 1: Watercooler Head Mask
This paper’s intention is to capture the
innovative efforts of people throughout a global
COVID 19 pandemic, whereby, if a similar
strain of virus was to become apparent in the
future as a second wave, these types of
innovative efforts (as well as lessons learned)
could be replicated and motivate others to rise
to a task of innovating for themselves. The
author considers at this point that innovation is
required, but these must perhaps be informed
and not just effort being made for effort’s sake.
In spite of this, the ingenuity of regular people
who are not necessarily defined as innovators
does shine through, whereby in the face of
extreme hardship via threat of imminent
infection or death, people make use of the
most random of items in a bid to protect
themselves and others. A philosophical
consideration here asks whether certain
cultures are more likely to not care whether
they lose public face or not, where the author
considers a visit to a supermarket wearing a
bandana as protection where the author was
sniggered at by passers-by. Perhaps public
attitude toward innovatively taking control into
one’s own hands could be at question for
future debate.
This paper will now consider other forms of
innovation emerging from a COVID 19 crisis,
in an attempt to capture some examples of a
global citizen response in a truly challenging
hour.
Ventilators
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service
has around 5,000 ventilators, with a goal
amidst the COVID 19 outbreak to manufacture
a further 20,000 machines. As Henden writes:
A ventilator, also called a respirator, is
designed to provide mechanical
ventilation by oxygen into and out of
the lungs, to deliver breaths to a
patient who is physically unable to
breathe, or breathing insufficiently.
The machines can be used to help a
person breath if they have conditions
making it difficult to breathe, such as
lung diseases. Ventilators can also be
used during and post-surgery to keep
oxygen flowing through your lungs
(Henden, 2020).
Ventilators are regarded as a current and
critical necessity against the backdrop of a
global pandemic. Readfearn provides insight
into healthcare authorities across the world
attempting to equip their hospitals with more
ventilators to cope with increasing numbers of
patients, also describing how the ventilator-
process works, whereby before a person is
placed on a ventilator, often a procedure called
intubation will be performed by an
anaesthetist. The patient is then provided with
a muscle relaxant and sedated before a tube is
place through the mouth and into the windpipe.
The tube is then attached to the ventilator
where medical staff have freedom to adjust the
oxygen mix as well as the rate the air is
mechanically pushed into the lungs
(Readfearn, 2020).
With major engineering, car manufacturing and
technology companies including Dyson in the
United Kingdom and Ford, General Motors,
Toyota and Tesla in the United States tasked
to produce ventilators, Wattles and Valdes-
Dapena report on the challenges faced by
pointing out:
Ventilators are complex machines that
use sophisticated software and
specialized parts, and companies that
seek to manufacture them face
several hurdlesincluding intellectual
property rights, the need for specially
trained workers, regulatory approvals
and safety considerations (Wattles and
Valdes-Dapena, 2020).
From a United Kingdom perspective
Gartenberg adds:
Dyson the British technology
company best known for its high-
powered vacuum cleaners, hair
dryers, and fans has designed a
new ventilator, the “CoVent,” in the
past several days, which it will be
producing in order to help treat
coronavirus patients. The company
reportedly developed the ventilator in
10 days based on Dyson’s existing
digital motor technology. Dyson is still
seeking regulatory approval in the UK
for the rapidly designed device, but it’s
already received an order from the UK
Government for 10,000 ventilators, of
which the National Health Service
(NHS) is in dire need (Gartenberg,
2020).
The ability to large companies to respond to
switching manufacturing from one product to
another (Figure 2) is an impressive insight into
how a multi-sector response to a global
COVID 19 pandemic can result in innovation
on a grand scale.
Figure 2: Dyson’s “CoVent” ventilator product
This paper considers further on-the-ground
and more makeshift attempts to create home-
devices and how these, similar to face-masks,
may not be the overall solution, but could
result in protecting people and maintaining life
as an interim, meaningful and effective
response, which could result in seeing some
fresh manufacturing companies emerge from a
crisis. As Whooley reports:
The University of Minnesota is touting
makeshift ventilators made from $150
in parts as potential solutions amid the
shortage of equipment at healthcare
facilities during the COVID-19
outbreak. The researchers developed
the mechanical ventilator as a
compact device the size of a cereal
box that does not require pressurized
oxygen or air supply, unlike
commercially available mechanical
ventilators (Whooley, 2020).
Whilst the United Kingdom’s Department of
Health and Social Care has published a
specification of a minimally clinically
acceptable ventilator to be used in hospitals,
setting out what is minimally acceptable
(Department of Health & Social Care, 2020),
other, perhaps less socially-agreeable models
are in design discussion and production
regardless. Bergan describes that a shortage
of suitable equipment amidst a pandemic
situation has driven DIY designers to attempt
to fill a supply gap (Bergan, 2020).
A visual example of an open source design
that could be made at home (Figure 3) is
offered by Thomsen, who adds:
Ventilators are complicated devices
that require skilful technicians to use
properly, and they're also subject to
FDA approvals which mean most home
projects are likely to unusable for most
hospitals (Thomsen, 2020).
Figure 3: Homemade ventilator design shared via Google
Docs and Github. Image copyright by jc15m1 / GitHub
With innovative considerations around face-
masks and ventilation systems which could
result part-way in stemming a pandemic in
their own individual ways, whilst being mindful
of the realities of an achieving of getting
products to market, this paper now turns its
attention toward China’s technological attempt
at placing less humans at the frontline, where
machines could become a future response of
every nation, in protecting its workforce.
Robot nurses
The author shopped at a Morrison’s
supermarket in Seaburn in the United Kingdom
on the evening of Friday, March 27,
purchasing some broccoli and other
vegetables, together with Turmeric tea, bread
and bottled juices. Approaching the checkout it
became apparent that the checkout worker
was wearing gloves but no protection at all for
their face. This, to the author, was an example
of a lack of empathetic response to a frontline
worker, within a store which sees thousands of
general public passing through its aisles every
day and no doubt many germs being passed
between people. When asked the reason for
being issued with plastic gloves but no face
mask, the checkout operator responded:
We’ve been told we cannot have
these. They are installing screens next
week, so we’ve been told. I’m actually
terrified (Supermarket Checkout
Worker, 2020).
This paper considers the life of a supermarket
checkout operator as being as valuable as a
frontline health worker, or any other occupation
in public-facing roles, whilst positioned at the
centre of a storm inside of a global COVID 19
pandemic. China’s response, through
technology, is perhaps an example of how a
future healthcare system might embrace
innovation in a meaningful way, deflecting the
potential of infection away completely from a
human being. However, the author is reminded
that the annual budget spending of a nation
can often be less applied to the defence of
people against hardship and the onslaught of
infection or disease and more towards the
defence of a nation against an attack upon its
borders via other nations – the quite sad
socially-constructed reality the human species
has found itself in, yet could perhaps shift its
rigid paradigms towards altering. As Mulgan
points out:
Meanwhile, vastly more innovation
funding still goes to the military than to
society, and the world’s brainpower is
still directed far more to the needs of
the wealthy and warfare than it is to
social priorities. More worrying is the
shift in climate. Relatively centrist,
pragmatic governments of both left
and right were sympathetic to some of
the arguments for social innovation.
By contrast, authoritarian leaders of
the kind who are thriving now tend to
be hostile, suspicious of civil society
and activism of any kind, and much
more favourable to innovation that’s
linked either to the military or big
business (Mulgan, 2017).
Hornyak writes of a novel field hospital staffed
by robots opening in Hongshan Sports Center
in Wuhan in China, where the global COVID-
19 pandemic began. It is reported to have
originated from a seafood market where wild
animals are illegally traded and where
coronaviruses are evidenced as having ability
to leap from animal to human. The Smart Field
Hospital is a facility which can serve 20,000
patients. The trial was aimed at relieving
healthcare workers, as the COVID 19
outbreak, for the virus’ original host nation at
least, began to show signs of slowing:
All medical services in the facility were
carried out by robots and other IoT
devices. Patients entering were
screened by connected 5G
thermometers to alert staff for anyone
feverish. Patients wore smart
bracelets and rings that synced with
CloudMinds’ AI platform so their vital
signs, including temperature, heart
rate and blood oxygen levels, could be
monitored. Doctors and nurses also
wore the devices to catch any early
signs of infection. Meanwhile, other
robots provided food, drinks and
medicine to patients, as well as
information and entertainment through
dancing, and still other autonomous
droids sprayed disinfectant and
cleaned the floors (Hornyak, 2020).
Where additional global reports talk of robots
performing ultrasounds, fluid-collection and
swabs from a person’s mouth, it is
questionable just when this level of innovation
will become widely available across a mass
market. Countries such as Denmark are
already established in the hosting of a range of
test sites and robot applications in healthcare,
describing themselves as an easy point of
entry to the European market (Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Denmark, 2020). Denmark is
also widely publicised as trading disinfection
robots with China. Figure 4 shows a food
delivery robot which is fully autonomous and
alleviates the human to human contact, freeing
up frontline staff for additional duties.
Figure 4: Hospital ward food delivery robot
Discussion
This paper was compiled in response to a
COVID-19 pandemic situation, with an aim of
capturing immediate reporting which relates to
innovation and technology being considered
and developed in an hour of critical need – as
the world seems currently locked at the very
eye of an unrelenting storm. The author leaves
future discussion to those who will respond in
their own way, who will consider perhaps the
dire need of humanity to see through multi-
layered agendas of the world’s socially-
constructed political and financial systems and
to recognise that all we really are, as a race, is
a species attempting to survive and be in the
world. Where this ability to be has become
overtaken by a callous and mass-supported
endeavour to purchase all, own all and to
control all, this has removed from every human
being on earth their basic, individual right, to
exist autonomously and to be, in their own
light. There is much mixed cell and blood type
from a range of varied species (plants and
trees included) upon the hands of the nations
of this tiny planet right now, as in the blinkered
past. How exactly the future will unfold will be
determined by whether true leaders stand up
and speak, or remain seated and silent. But
perhaps, for now at least, silence is okay,
whilst Nature is afforded just a brief spell, to
mend its own broken system.
This paper here ends via a conceptual
imagining of the entire global and universal
system as one whole body, interlinked, where,
from an anatomical viewpoint, Jasanoff,
director of the MIT Center for Neurobiological
Engineering considers ‘how the brain is
physiologically coupled to its surroundings’
(2018: 220). Here human physiological and all
adjoining systems might be assumed as
juxtaposed against a reality-backdrop,
interconnected in all their array of splendorous
uniqueness and functioning in the kind of
completeness which could see a future
landscape awaken from an unwanted
dystopian nightmare into more of a utopian,
lucid dream – preferably one where the adults
of tomorrow are permitted a more authentic
and less tokenistic display of voice and control.
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Author note: All online sources were visited
on March 28, 2020. The author apologies for
any academic inconsistencies in the narrative.
This paper was completed at 14:27pm where
Worldometer (online) estimates 28, 653 deaths
with 620,938 confirmed cases across 199
countries and territories. This paper is
dedicated to the 1,043 who in the blink of an
eye whilst compiling this paper, were robbed of
their right to survive may those you left
behind inherit an improved socially-
constructed system of societies worldwide.
This paper is also dedicated to current frontline
workers who, similar to the checkout operator
as aforementioned in this paper, may be
carrying out their duties valiantly, whilst being
recklessly used as pawns by a system who
might just now be shunted to wake up to the
power of usefully applied innovation and
technology with ability to respond to nurturing
and maintaining life, rather than seek to
annihilate it. May the infants of this planet look
toward future leaders through eyes of
admiration not disdain.
Bruce, T.A. (2020) Corona Virus Disease (COVID 19):
Rapid human ingenuity through innovation and technology
as an proactive and admirable response in the storm of a
global pandemic [Online] Available at:
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.25262.46405
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