Respiratory equipment: urgently needed, not for the first time
| Times of crisis seem to be a catalyst for creativity and inventions, for better or for worse. In the period around the Second World War, the world's population was depleted considerably as a result of inventions including ballistic missiles, fragmentation bombs and the atomic bomb. At the same time, lives were being saved thanks to the discovery of penicillin, which compensated for the decrease in population as a result of the war. In addition to drastically changing the world, these inventions are still highly relevant today.
Doctors treating polio discovered that the virus paralyses muscles in the chest, making it impossible for patients to breathe, and causing the death of many. People started searching for a way to resolve this breathing problem, and P. Drinker and L.A. Shaw invented the breathing tank in 1927. This iron lung was first installed in Bellevue Hospital in the city of New York, and saved thousands of lives during the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s. Only when the polio vaccine was developed in 2004 did the number of patients decline significantly.
In 2020, almost a century after the invention of the iron lung, that same city of New York is the epicentre of the Coronavirus, and respiratory equipment is urgently needed both there and throughout the world. A vaccine against Corona is under development, and hopefully this will not take decades to develop, as was the case with the polio vaccine. While this puts enormous pressure on the development of a Corona vaccine, the world is changing rapidly as a result of technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological worlds.
Working from home, online shopping, video conferencing, using smart devices from the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and apps with access to medical data that are intended to trace Corona infections have become the new standard in a large part of the world. This may be frightening, but finding a way through these circumstances is inevitable. In that sense, now everyone around the world, in every industry, is an inventor. Regardless of whether solving day-to-day inconveniences or a worldwide crisis is involved: intellectual property will continue to change our lives and the world.