The rise of ‘frugal design’—and what it reveals about the future of innovation

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COVID-19 forced doctors around the world to get creative with their supplies. Dr. Msandeni Chiume Kayuni found herself in the middle of a supply crisis as COVID-19 spread to Africa in April 2020. As head of pediatrics at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, her team faced a critical shortage of N95 and regular surgical face masks. Nurses and doctors were striking. Read Full Story

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This filter for the front of an N95 mask could make it reusable

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Scientists came up with an experimental virus-blocking membrane that can be discarded so doctors can use the mask again. As governments around the world struggle to build up a supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers—navigating price gouging, counterfeit respirators, scammers, and fierce competition from other governments—some hospitals are still taking care of COVID-19 patients without adequate supplies, and reusing masks that were designed to be disposable. Read Full Story

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Be a ‘hand Nazi’ and other COVID-19 thoughts from an NYC doctor’s viral Zoom call

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A doctor on the front lines of the pandemic sought to reassure his beleaguered colleagues with practical tips. Then the internet got ahold of it. Last week, David Price, a doctor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York who has been treating coronavirus patients, stared into his laptop camera with the sore face of someone who has been wearing a mask a lot and hasn’t slept much, the numbed face of someone who has been to some sort of war, and began explaining to colleagues what he’d been learning. Read Full Story

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Makers are rushing to fight coronavirus with 3D printed face shields and test swabs

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3D printing is having a moment as a vital source of emergency medical supply creation. When Madiha Choksi, a research and learning technologies librarian at Columbia University, received a call for help from a doctor last week, she didn’t hesitate. Part of her job entails managing the school library’s 3D printing program, so she often gets requests from researchers and faculty members to print out different prototypes. On March 19, Peirre Elias, a Columbia University cardiology fellow, had an urgent ask: With the severe absence of PPE at hospitals, would she be able to 3D-print face shields? Read Full Story

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What doctors at overwhelmed rural hospitals are facing, in their own words

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In many communities, the cooperation and goodwill seen early in the pandemic have given way to COVID-19 fatigue and anger, making it hard to implement and enforce public health measures. It’s difficult to put into words how hard COVID-19 is hitting rural America’s hospitals. North Dakota has so many cases, it’s allowing asymptomatic COVID-19-positive nurses to continue caring for patients to keep the hospitals staffed. Iowa and South Dakota have teetered on the edge of running out of hospital capacity. Read Full Story

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When can kids get the COVID-19 vaccine? A pediatrician answers 5 key questions

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Both Moderna and Pfizer are testing the vaccine in children now. A big question among parents and teachers as more schools reopen is when their kids will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Some have wondered whether the vaccine is even necessary for children. Dr. James Wood , a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases, explains what doctors know today about the risk children face of getting and spreading the coronavirus and when vaccines might be available. Read Full Story

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Starbucks, PepsiCo, and BMW partner to fix a global problem worth trillions

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COVID-19 made it clear: The supply chain desperately needs an upgrade. To understand the vulnerabilities of the global movement of goods, think about toilet paper and face masks. During the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic when both items were in extreme demand, the systems in place to move them from manufacturers to consumers were unable to keep pace. The global supply chain—an intricate network of manufacturers, warehouses, and shipping and delivery companies spread around the world—was not broken, exactly, but it also wasn’t nimble enough to work the way the world needed. Read Full Story

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Why haven’t they designed reusable N95 masks?

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As the country faces a shortage of protective gear and healthcare workers are asked to keep masks in paper bags between shifts, why don’t we have masks that can be disinfected safely? One of the tragedies of the coronavirus crisis is the lack of protection for healthcare workers: With a shortage of N95 masks—the respirators that can help filter out virus-filled droplets from coughs or sneezes—doctors and nurses in the U.S. are begging the government to do more to increase production. In Italy and China, thousands of doctors were infected with COVID-19 in part because they didn’t have masks, gloves, or other protection. Many have died. Read Full Story

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