New 30-minute Covid-19 testing kits are in development © iStockphoto/Getty Images
New 30-minute Covid-19 testing kits are in development © iStockphoto/Getty Images

From Covid-19 testing kits to health tracking smart rings: a world of innovation

Where supply chains make a difference


A series of Covid-19 kits are in development including one by Heat Biologics and the University of Miami, that works like a pregnancy test. While current kits take 5-6 hours and can require lab work, this new tool is designed to give a result in 30 minutes by detecting viral molecules and not antibodies. It is hoped it will be a cheaper and faster way to test.


3D printer Isinnova has designed a replacement valve for medical ventilators, which must be changed every eight hours. Working with fellow printing firm Lonati, the company is producing replica valves for a hospital in Brescia as a short-term measure to help the original manufacturer, Intersurgical, meet the unexpectedly high demand for parts.


Tampliner merges the two most common sanitary products in one biodegradable combination. Created by a gynaecologist and fashion designer, with backing from Innovate UK, manufacturer Callaly’s product aims to break taboos around sanitary care and improve the user experience for women.


People with visual impairments can gain independence using Google Glass devices connected to an app made by tech firm Envision. Optical character recognition software reads text and identifies images including colours and faces, and recites the information aloud to the user.


Startup Jupe has created modular medical care units to alleviate pressure on hospitals. The mobile shelters are quick and easy to build for accommodation, primary care and intensive care provision. The company is preparing to scale up for worldwide delivery.

Burkina Faso

A moisturiser containing shea butter and DEET mosquito repellent is proving to be an effective way to combat malaria. The ointment, developed by engineer Gérard Niyondiko, protects against two types of mosquitoes for three and six hours each. The manufacturers are now seeking WHO accreditation.


Fish scales can be used to make thin, wearable electronics. A team from Nanjing Tech University has extracted gelatin from scales – an abundant waste product – to create a soft, flexible film which can be layered up with electronic components. It is hoped to produce comfortable health monitoring tools that can be easily dissolved with just hot water.


Finnish firm Oura – which recently received $28m in funding – is using its wellness tracker in a study to tackle Covid-19 by understanding how contagions are spread. The smart ring’s sensors are monitoring health professionals, recording heart rate, body temperature, respiration and location.

Crunching the numbers

Up to 61k

The amount of ventilators in the pipeline from engineering firms such as Dyson, Babcock and Airbus as manufacturing efforts are retooled towards the demand for vital technical medical equipment.

Estimated £60bn​

The UK public spending fund allocated to tackling the economic effects of the coronavirus, including £12bn for a job retention scheme based on 3m people being furloughed.


The reduction in NO​2​ air pollutant levels in Mumbai over six weeks between February and the end of March due to lockdown effects caused by the coronavirus, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

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