Dec 07, 2021 | Updated: 07:19 PM EDT

Five Biotech Gadgets Critical for Combating COVID-19

Jun 17, 2020 05:24 PM EDT

Five Biotech Gadgets Critical for Combating COVID-19
(Photo : Five Biotech Gadgets Critical for Combating COVID-19)

As COVID-19 continues its devastating impact on the global community, the results of the pandemic have become more and more apparent. The virus has affected businesses and individuals alike and led to over 33.5 million applications for unemployment in the United States alone. Worse yet is the human impact, with nearly four million cases reported to date, resulting in nearly 270,000 deaths. 

These impacts have led to an increasing urgency among researchers and developers, aimed at producing equipment to stop the spread of the disease. Whether equipment meant to curb further infections by front-line workers or innovations in patient treatment, a number of gadgets and gear have been implemented during these efforts. This brief list includes insight into these new products:

1. Plate Dispensers for COVID-19 Vaccine Research

With its tendency to spread quickly - and at times without the presence of detectable symptoms - the nature of COVID-19 adds additional urgency to current efforts to develop a vaccine for the virus. However, the process of developing an effective vaccine has been influenced by various factors regarding the nature of vaccines themselves. While live vaccines using a weakened version of a virus to prompt an immune response are typically the most effective, they must undergo extensive safety testing before use in humans, which can take years and may pose a risk to researchers. Inactivated and genetically-engineered vaccines tend to be safer and require less testing but are also usually less effective. 

Fortunately, the development of biomedical technology has helped to not only speed vaccine research but make the process safer and more efficient for researchers. For example, utilizing a 96 well plate dispenser can help sort and dispense cells with the help of advanced machine technology and its accompanying software. Researchers can study as many as 100 cells within each of anywhere between 96 and 384 wells per plate. 

2. Personal Protective Equipment 

Front-line COVID-19 workers can include health care professionals as well as essential personnel in certain areas of retail, the supply chain, transportation and more. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, workers must wear personal protective equipment, or PPE - gear that safeguards users against safety and health risks while at work, with use in the US dictated by OSHA. Depending on the environment, PPE can include anything from gloves and safety helmets to respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Other examples of PPE could be safety harnesses, safety footwear, high-visibility clothing. 

For many workers, essential PPE includes equipment used to shield clinical service providers against bacterial or viral infection from respiratory secretions. In addition, healthcare workers must seek protection from body fluids, blood, and excretions from patients. While mouth, nose, and eyes require optimum protection, other areas of the body may benefit from PPE of a variety of types, including: 

  • Gowns - These isolation outfits are produced using an assortment of synthetic fabrics. Most gowns produced for use in the USA are single-use.

  • Gloves - These single-use items protect the hand and wrist and are typically made of natural rubber latex, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, and nitrile.

  • Hair cover - This protective covering is typically single-use and shields the worker's scalp and hair from contaminants like aerosols and body fluids which may harbor the active virus for hours. 

  • Face masks - Often referred to as surgical masks or cloth masks, when used in conjunction with proper hand hygiene, these masks may help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by preventing droplets from entering the air.

  • N95 masks - One of the most crucial - and most undersupplied - of all PPE, this mask  can filter up to 95% of all pathogens from the surrounding air. 

3. Digital Thermometers

With the CDC providing guidance to avoid returning to work or school until an individual is fever-free for at least 72 hours, the development of quick-read thermometers is crucial. While thermometers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many businesses anticipate the use of touch-free, infrared thermometers to screen employees and customers alike. For personal use, any medically accepted, quality digital thermometer will provide an accurate reading and most are available for only a few dollars.

4. Ventilators

One of the most crucial pieces of equipment available during the current pandemic, a ventilator aids a patient experiencing difficulty breathing by pushing oxygenated air into the lungs. Patients are given drugs to loosen up the respiratory muscles enabling the machine to take full control of breathing and allowing the patient to utilize energy for recovery. Today's sophisticated respirators add humidity and adjust the temperature of outside air to ensure it is nearly identical to naturally inhaled air.  

5. Blood Oxygen Monitors

The primary impact of coronavirus involves the compromise of the respiratory system. This can result in decreased ability to breathe and impede the flow of vital oxygen to supplement the body's most important processes. To determine whether a patient is breathing effectively, caregivers may utilize a blood oxygen monitoring device. When clamped onto the patient's finger, the monitor determines how much infrared light is absorbed by the patient's blood and gives a reliable indication of oxygen levels; when levels are too low, the device can alert the caregiver and prompt additional interventions.

Closing Thoughts

COVID-19 has necessitated continuing innovations in PPE, vaccine production, and other essential biomedical technology to help combat the spread of the virus. As the pandemic continues, the technologies mentioned above are more important than ever. With careful attention to research and development, these devices could help turn the tide in the war against this deadly pathogen.

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