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Can a widely available drug help fight against Covid-19?

Mounir Jamil

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Can a widely available drug help fight against Covid-19

A widely available and relatively cheap drug can apparently save the lives of patients who have been seriously ill from coronavirus. Dexamethasone, is reportedly part of the world’s biggest trial, testing existing treatments to find out whether they work as effectively on patients with Covid-19.

During the trial, led by a team at Oxford University, about 2,000 hospital patients were given dexamethasone compared with 4,000 patients who were not. For patients that were on ventilators, it reduced the risk of death from 40% to 28% and for patients in need of oxygen, it reduced the risk from 25% to 20%.

Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been well known since the early 1960s. The drug has been widely used to treat a range of conditions such as asthma, arthritis, and some skin conditions. It also appears to help some of the damage that occurs when the body’s immune system tries to fight diseases. The overreaction known as a cytokine storm can be lethal.

However, dexamethasone, doesn’t seem to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus who do not have breathing problems. The trial that has been running since March, also examined the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has since been dropped from trials amid concerns that it increases risk of fatalities and heart problems.

Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

MedTech

Covid-19 mass testing – the need for strategic implementation

Adnan Kayyali

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Covid-19 mass testing – the need for strategic implementation

Covid-19 mass testing should be an integral part of any plan to navigate the pandemic. The main objective across the board would be to incrementally ease lockdowns, curfews, and restrictions, open up and revive the economy, all while avoiding a second-wave. Testing is key to all of this. Without proper strategic testing, we cannot effectively isolate, contain and subdue any new pockets of infection.

Governments and institutions, especially those in developed countries, have all the tools they need to begin mass testing and start alleviating confinement. Ideally, restrictions wouldn’t be lifted until a vaccine or effective treatment is created, but that is sadly some time away, and so other measures must be implemented.

The questions to ask would be: What to test and how?

The answer to the first “what to test” is shorter: There are two types of tests, molecular diagnostic testing (RT-PCR), and serology tests. The first, is a standard test to identify whether the person is currently infected or not, and gaging the percentage of infected people within an area or community. The second, reveals whether the person has been infected before, and has developed antibodies. This is to allow people who have developed an immunity to return to work safely, and to provide samples and data that could help in vaccine development and better understand the virus.

The “how” is a slightly longer story. One of the most effective strategies that have been tried and tested by other nations such as South Korea is ‘Testing, Tracking, and Tracing’ – or TTT.

  • South Korea used techniques such as drive through testing sites and thermal imaging cameras.
  • Tracking, at least in South Korea, involved the obligatory downloading of an application that notifies authorities if a subject breaks quarantine, for which they would be heavily penalized.
  • Tracing of course, involves using a person’s location data to determine if they might be infected, map out where they’ve been and warn anyone living in those areas. Information may include details from a person’s phone, credit card, and facial recognition for locating the subject. This obviously brings up major privacy and human rights concerns, but most people can put aside their privacy temporarily – hopefully – in a time of crisis, if it means keeping their loved ones and communities safe.

Another technique for COVID-19 mass testing is known as “Assurance Testing”. Simply put, organizations, communities or even entire towns can request that their members be tested as a whole. This means that testing kits can be supplied on demand for an entire group, easing the organization, logistical strain, and procurement of medical supplies. It is an effective way of opening up the economy slowly and methodically as each office building or company that gets tested all together can pretty much return to work. If infected individuals are found, measures are taken.

It seems like COVID-19 mass testing is the only way out of this mess. We can’t all sit at home; someone has to run all the machines and keep society marching on. But things cannot go back to normal so quickly and easily either. Strategic implementation is key.

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MedTech

New VR video demonstrating COVID-19 Resuscitation Techniques

Mounir Jamil

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New VR video demonstrating COVID-19 Resuscitation Techniques

A digital design specialist from the Annenberg School for Communication has successfully created a 360-degree VR video demonstrating COVID-19 treatment procedures to prepare medical staff that are in remote locations to respond to emergency cases.

VR is a fully immersive technology that can benefit medical personnel by generating 3D, interactive environments in settings that are usually too hard to simulate with simple 2D graphics, the video here, was filmed in the Emergency Department in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Via operation performed on a mannequin, the video illustrates a doctor treating a COVID-19 patient that is suffering from respiratory failure.

Even though the video is available to almost everyone, it was specifically made for healthcare providers that have been exposed to high levels of critically ill COVID-19 patients. The video can be accessed by medical staff via YouTube and Annenberg’s website through a computer screen or even with a VR headset.

Kyle Cassidy, Annenberg digital design specialist, has spearheaded the project when he first created a VR video back in 2018 to teach people how to use Narcan, an anti-opioid overdose reversal agent. After Cassidy presented a paper regarding the video at a healthcare conference, a physician at Weill Cornell medicine, Kevin Ching, reached out to Cassidy in mid-Apil asking him for help in developing an educational VR video that highlights Coronavirus treatment practices.

Lauren Weinberger Conlon, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, serves as the video’s principal actor as an attending physician, has mentioned that the project deeply focuses on VR video demonstrating COVID-19 resuscitation of a patient with respiratory distress. Conlon worked closely with Ching, as well as Weill colleagues, Amos Shemesh and Neel Naik, in order to draft the video script and ensure that information presented was clear and consistent.

To make the video come to life, Cassidy used a special camera with six outward facing lenses from Penn Libraries Vitale Digital Media Lab to capture a realistic 360-degree perspective of the hospital setting and surroundings. The VR aspect of Annenberg video makes it easier for the medical staff to better prepare for the possibility of distractions in a high-pressure atmosphere as they treat a COVID-19 patient with respiratory failure.

Cassidy mentioned that there is an in-person aspect to medical teaching which often requires people to look in different directions, to physically touch something, see something move, formulate a decision, and see the outcomes of their decisions.

A recording studio assistant for Vitale Digital Media Lab at Penn, Christopher Vandegrift, edited the majority of the video by stitching the six lenses of the camera closely together, and by adding noise and lighting adjustment, and inserting onscreen graphics all in order to produce the VR video demonstrating COVID-19 resuscitation techniques. The video took around 20 to 40 hours to edit after receiving the unedited version. Vandegrift mentioned that VR makes it real and immersive in a way that normal video would not be able to capture.

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MedTech

COVID-19 Travel Kit Launched by Albea

Adnan Kayyali

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COVID-19 Travel Kit Launched by Albea

The travel industry has taken the hardest hit during the pandemic. Many people are reluctant to fly due to the growing fear of inadequate hygiene and sanitary precautions on a flight whilst being in close proximity to other passengers and staff. To tackle this issue, Albea Travel Designer has come up with a stylish and innovative prototype: a customizable COVID-19 travel kit dubbed ‘Travel&StaySafe’.

The kit will be available for delivery worldwide and can be purchased via the companies’ ecommerce site. It is designed for airlines, transportation companies, agencies, and operators like taxi services, shipping companies, vehicle rentals, rail companies, to ensure their customers’ safety and comfort.

The COVID-19 travel kit comes with different types of masks that are reusable and which come in both adult and child sizes. It can also include gloves, hand cleaning gel, disinfectant wipes, hydroalcoholic solution, or a lab coat, if you choose to have it that way.

What is also cool about the kit is that it can be customized to any company’s brand design. This might be considered an added extravagance by some, but visual appeal adds intrinsic value to this item. Companies can choose to have their COVID-19 travel kit blend in with their image and feel, integrating better hygienic habits seamlessly into their brand identity and everyday life.

Even in a post-COVID-19 world, hygiene, sanitization and safety measures will stay in people’s minds for a long time to come. Companies must adapt to the new hyper-cautious, hyper-vigilant, and borderline-paranoid way of thinking that people have forcibly adopted. Integration by visual design is certainly one way to do it.

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