How to contain the Coronavirus

What can Apple, GM, Boeing, Medtronic and a whole host of companies (plus the US Government) do to deal with this coronavirus situation.

Credits: Nature Magazine

As the global coronavirus epidemic grips the world, governments are at a loss over how to contain the virus stopping short of issuing nationwide lockdown orders which can cripple the economy and create significant mental health issues to an over stressed health care network.

The key in our strategy focuses on the big issues, which is

  1. Creating on demand secondary healthcare facilities
  2. Using dynamic real-time risk based assessment of Covid-19 and other pandemics that will emerge

3. Autonomous cars to ferry people with self-isolating cubicles

4.  Mass temperature screening checkpoints


  1. Creating on demand secondary healthcare facilities

We now have assembly-lines that can take raw a metal skeleton and produce a car or truck at the end of the assembly line. The question is why can’t turnkey healthcare facilities, that are configured to deal with an epidemic be designed in such a manner? The issue is that of specialization : a healthcare facility is usually designed to handle multiple possible care pathways which require a rather cell-based service delivery as opposed to a production line.  And this has worked well in the past when the service is highly personalized and care giver to patient ratios are within the limits of the entire healthcare system. But in the case of the Coronavirus epidemic, a mere increase of 250,000 active cases, which represents less than 0.0005% of the total developed world (assumed to be 500m population) has the entire system in a flux.

The answer: The Government, perhaps the US, should get the major players, namely the car companies (like GM), the airplane manufactures (like the Boeing),  the tech giants (like Apple), the medical device manufacturers, the civil engineers, the hospital designers and the care providers,  to come out with a blueprint design of a production line orientated hospital unit that can be shipped out and rolled on demand. I think the US has shown in the past during wartime crisis that the capacity for innovation is outstanding and the US does boast some of the best “out of the box” thinkers as well.  Basically the parameters of a solution are (a) structural integrity by limiting loads on all points so that a hospital can be assembled without the need for time-consuming earthworks, (b) reducing the patient to caregiver ratio through automation, remote technology and (c) ensuring modularity so that the space can be expanded and contracted on-demand. There are probably many other factors as well as medico-legal implications which could be expanded upon. However, the Constitution is created by man and can be changed by the representatives of men as the situation requires.

The use case is massive: Hospitals that spring up in the middle of now-where to dynamically cater to a health emergency and then shut down when the emergency is over.

The alternate state is a system that is crippled which benefits no one.

2. Dynamic realtime assessment of Covid-19 (and the next Covid until countries which allow the exploitation of wild animals are not ejected from the world’s financial system).

In a scenario like what we face today, the function of an individual acquiring an infection is related is a factor of how many people the individual interacted with over a period of time. So for argument’s sake, suppose an individual is able to go about his or hers daily life within a limited circle, necessarily all things being equal, that individual presents less of a risk of being a potential ‘spreader’ of a virus than another individual who interacts with many other people.  And in any basis risk assessment protocol, groups which are of a higher risk warrant a higher level of risk assessment, perhaps regularly checking in to a specially designed booth for an assessment than groups which are not. This is where wearable technologies can come into play. If groups were to have their wearable on their wrists at all times when outdoors, the tech gadget could record interactions with others through some communication protocol.  In the event that someone in the group they interacted with acquires an infection, the contact trace can be done immediately.

Aside from the ethical implications (the alternative is total lockdown), there are some criminal justice implications as well. For example, a person more likely to commit a crime will probably not wear the wearable so this would require some sort of law enforcement technology that will allow an officer to immediately identify such individuals like an afterburner to a heat-seeking missile.

I think item 3 – Autonomous vehicles and item 4 are quire self explanatory and need not require further elaboration from a humble news outlet.

The key idea that lawmakers and industry should consider are these startling facts. The current rate of active people diagnosed with Covid-19 is about 400,000 globally and the world has gone into meltdown. Solutions need to be developed and be shelf ready to deploy as and when the political climate allows it.

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