It is another medical mystery of the coronavirus pandemic: Large numbers of Covid-19 patients arrive at hospitals with blood-oxygen levels so low they should be unconscious or on the verge of organ failure. Instead they are awake, talking—not struggling to breathe.
Although nobody is quite sure what about the coronavirus causes these patients to react this way, they are rapidly changing how many doctors are treating the disease. Instead of rushing to put such patients on mechanical ventilators.
When Nicole Sirotek, a nurse from Nevada, travelled to New York to help treat coronavirus patients, she never imagined she would witness patients being “murdered” by “gross negligence and complete medical mismanagement.
Sesigners, engineers and programmers have heard the klaxon call. The last few weeks have seen a wave of ingenuity unleashed, with both garden-shed tinkerers and high-tech manufacturers scrambling to develop things that will combat the spread of Covid-19.
Many of their innovations raise as many questions as they answer, though. Could 3D printing now finally come into its own, with access to open-source, downloadable designs for medical parts? If so, will intellectual property infringements be waived, or will altruistic hacktivists still face costly lawsuits? Could mobile phone tracking map the spread of infection like never before, keeping people away from virus hotspots? If so, might governments use the pandemic as an excuse to ramp up surveillance measures post-crisis?