9 new technologies created to fight COVID-19
COVID-19, as the first major epidemic of our century, represents an excellent opportunity for policymakers and regulators to reflect on the legal plausibility, ethical soundness and effectiveness of the deployment of emerging technologies under time pressure.
18 May 2020
By Eloise Bevan, Innovation Funding Consultant at ABGI-UK
The technology that surrounds us is the most advanced it has ever been, with each new day surpassing the last. This is not surprising giving the 8 billion strong population and the unparalleled access to education and resources we now have. Over the past few months in the global coronavirus pandemic we have seen how our invested time and money spent advancing a wide range of technologies is having a real impact in the fight against the virus, which has made its way to 187 countries and territories across the world since its suspected Day 0 in October 2019.
COVID-19, as the first major epidemic of our century, represents an excellent opportunity for policymakers and regulators to reflect on the legal plausibility, ethical soundness and effectiveness of the deployment of emerging technologies under time pressure. Striking the right balance will be crucial for maintaining the public's trust in evidence-based public health interventions.
One of the biggest technological innovators of the 20th Century is Bill Gates. Gates stated that, similarly to the amazing amount of innovation that was created in World War II to bring it to its conclusion , we now need to accelerate innovation in our united war against coronavirus.
He has subsequently broken down the innovation into five categories: treatments, vaccines, testing, contact tracing and polices for opening up. The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has identified and detailed ten technologies that are currently being used in innovative ways to fight against the virus, this includes the details of:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) to track the epidemic in real-time and improve care delivery;
- Drones and Robots to patrol streets, disinfect areas and delivery food and medicine;
- Open-source technologies for rapid data sharing for better understanding of the origins and spread of the infection;
- Telehealth technologies to connect patients and clinicians to circumvent the need to travel and overburden hospitals and the emergency services;
- Three-dimensional printing for the supply of medical equipment’s;
- Gene-editing for diagnosis and treatment;
- Nanotechnology for the containment, diagnosis and treatment through targeted drug delivery and the production of new therapeutic materials;
- Synthetic (lab-based) biology for drug and vaccine development;
Blockchain for speeding up the detection of virus carriers and halting the spread of the virus to developing a vaccine - read our recent articles on Managing global supply chains in the COVID-19 crisis
In using these technologies, policy making is a vital step to protect equality and individual human rights amongst many other technology specific reasons, and therefore each of the above has an accompanying anticipatory policy-making statement in the official EPRS report. One of the main areas that is causing concern in the use of some technologies in the fight against COVID-19 is the use of personal data, which when collected can be used for ulterior motives and be in breach of personal privacy rights.
Is your company involved in the use of any of the above technologies in innovative ways for the fight against COVID-19? If yes, please reach out to ABGI UK today so we can make sure your money goes the extra mile by assessing which innovation funding solutions your development work could benefit from.
In the meantime, keep an eye on our blog – In the second part in our mini-series on Technological advances in the COVID-19 crisis, we’ll take a look at the privacy implications of COVID-19 tacking technology.