How can tech help fight the coronavirus?
With the world at a standstill because of COVID-19, Avy explores the different ways tech have helped fight the virus. More specifically, medical delivery drones that have been used to transport samples in China, proving to be a more efficient means of transportation for epidemic prevention and control.
With the world at a standstill because of the coronavirus, our thoughts go out to all those affected by it, and to the healthcare professionals who are working around the clock to fight COVID-19. Nevertheless, we have seen positive effects; organisations working together to speed up efficiency, by looking past the conventional regulatory framework and thinking outside the box like: hospitals developing their own testing fluid and medical companies exploring how to make their own COVID-19 tests.
3 ways medical drones have contributed to the solution
Since February, the citizens of Xinchang, China have been able to see drones fly between the People’s hospital of Xinchang county, to the disease control centre located 3km away. A trip that would’ve otherwise taken 20 minutes by ground transport, took 6 minutes, marking it the first “urban air transportation channel”. Terra Drone company Antwork, took proactive measures to respond to the needs of epidemic prevention and control. The results are inspiring:
- Improved the delivery speed and increased the efficiency of transporting COVID-19 samples and quarantine supplies, by 50% compared to road transportation
- Proved to relieve personnel shortage as more and more medical staff and ambulances were transferred frontline
- Significantly reduced contact opportunities between samples and personnel in the transportation process, containing the spread of the virus
This didn’t happen overnight, but decision makers did act faster than usual. This effort required close coordination with a variety of stakeholders, including the Hangzhou Municipal Government, it's health department and healthcare facilities, the drone company Antwork, and the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) to approve routes and ensure that proper safety measures were taken.
This highlights the contributions made by drone delivery in an environment where limiting human-to-human contact is of extreme importance. At the peak of the operation, they were deploying 20 flights a day, and proved to be a more efficient means of transportation for epidemic prevention and control.
Where can we help out?
The EU is a bit different regarding regulations and getting all the players involved - it’s not that easy (yet) to set up a drone transportation network. Avy is currently exploring the different possible ways in which help can be done, wherever possible. If you happen to come across any opportunities, don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.
In the (near?) future: Transporting samples
Avy focuses on manufacturing drones suitable for transporting medical cargo such as blood, medicines or samples. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s important to monitor and contain the outbreak, by being able to diagnose samples of patients with speed and efficiency. Despite the fact that EU countries are developed with modern healthcare systems, not all hospitals have the lab facilities to test COVID-19 samples. Our VTOL fixed-wing drone is being developed to pick up these samples from smaller municipalities and carry them to labs in larger cities. This would help with containing the virus faster and help to prevent the risk of spreading and infecting more people.
Using our 3D printer
One of the urgent problems caused by COVID-19 is the critical need for intensive care and oxygenation. The key here is to have as many reanimation machines as possible. However, in a time of crisis, it’s never that easy. An example of this happened in Italy, when a hospital needed a replacement valve for the reanimation machine, but their supplier was out. FabLab Italy, a global makerspace community acted fast and have since saved 10 patients who are breathing through a machine that used a 3D printed valve. As the virus continues to spread and when desperate times call for desperate measures - Avy is currently in touch with Dutch 3D platform and would like to offer our 3D printers to help where it can, producing 3D printed healthcare materials when needed.
Avyators helping their neighbours
This may be a stressful time for everyone, but in a time of panic and fear, we shouldn’t forget about the vulnerable people in our community, that have been advised to self-isolate for their own safety. For those not feeling any symptoms, we’ve found plenty of ways to help out. Pick up your neighbour’s shopping and urgent supplies, or post their mail. Make them feel less lonely by writing them a card or giving them a call. Check out how you can help in your area. Our employees have been helping through several organisations: the Gewoon mensen willen helpen initiative and Serve the city platform.
Whilst we self-isolate ourselves wondering when the next time we’ll be outside having a good time - imagine a drone flying past your window carrying samples to the nearest disease centre, or delivering medical supplies to a patient in need at home. The future of healthcare would be faster, more cost-efficient, and safer for society as drones could help prevent the spread of the virus, don’t you think?