Working together against COVID-19

This post was prepared by Anna Pellizzone, a science writer and an independent researcher at the Bassetti Foundation.

Makers

As many of us face lockdown and restricted movement, it is certainly worth thinking about what we ourselves might be able to do from our homes to help in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plenty of initiatives around that are pushing technology into new fields, with 3D printing certainly one of the most prominent technologies.

News of respirator valves produced using 3D printers has spread across the world. Thanks to the meeting of three minds, a journalist (Nunzia Vallini, Giornale di Brescia), a Maker from Milan (Massimo Temporelli, FabLab Milano) and an entrepreneur (Cristian Fracassi from Isinnova), pieces required for the machines used in the Intensive Care Department of Chiari Hospital (Italy) are being produced in the hospital itself.

The “3D Printing Unite for COVID-19” forum is another interesting collaboration. Through the forum, makers from across the world share ideas aimed at responding to the emergency. You can read more about the Chiari story there. This is an open-source initiative headquartered in Ireland which aims to resolve the problem of the shortage of  ventilators, learn more here in Forbes.

And there is plenty more. João Nascimento runs the OpenAir project, with the aim of finding new, fast, open-source and accessible ways to produce much-needed medical equipment. Lots of interesting stuff here too.

If you are the competitive type (and well set up), the UBORA project, has launched the UBORA design competition 2020, with the title “Open source medical technologies for integral management of COVID-19 pandemia and infectious disease outbreaks”.

Play Your Part

You too can play a role though without technical expertise and home technology by participating in Coronaselfcheck, a platform that works to map data on the spread of COVID-19 through a personal self-check. Check out the privacy and descriptions of aims before you make a decision, but everything is anonymous and helps through mapping contagion.

And of course fold.it, a platform many of you will know, where users who play have been able to help researchers to discover new antiviral drugs that might be able to stop the coronavirus. The most promising solutions will be tested at the Institute for Protein Design of the University of Washington. We are all citizen scientists at heart.

Remaining in the area of protein folding, another contribution that we can all make is to offer our own PC’s computational capacity by downloading and running folding@home – similar to BOINC projects.

There is also a lot of open-source software available that allows the sharing of useful research data. Nextstrain is an open-source application that works to track the evolution of viruses and bacteria, while GISAID is a free open-access platform that promotes the sharing of the genetic sequences of virus genomes such as influenza, bird flu and COVID-19.

And finally check out this article from Wired and you will be in self-isolation heaven.

Keep us informed if you find any others please: anticovid19(at)fondazionebassetti.org
Replace the (at) with an @

Let’s all push and show them what we can do if we all work together.

Webinar on technology, legal issues and human rights challenges 5 March 2020

This week I want to let you know about a webinar that might well be of interest, hosted by the EU funded SIENNA project.

The SIENNA project addresses ethical issues in three new and emerging technology areas: human genomics, human enhancement and human-machine interaction. As we know, these areas all come with major socio-economic impact but they also raise issues related to human rights. The project aims to identify and assess ethical issues and risks and produce three ethical frameworks related to the areas named above. 

The SIENNA project has recently produced a legal analysis of issues and human rights challenges for these areas, and studies of how they are handled in different jurisdictions. They are presenting the results in a webinar on 5 March 2020, at 2PM Central European Time.

The analysis looked at how the law responds to challenges in these different fields, and identified the limitations, challenges and gaps. They also identified key human rights norms and regulatory approaches that can help shape legal responses to new and emerging technologies in these domains. 

Interested participants can register here. I will certainly be following.

A Free Journal of Current EU Projects

To continue from where I left off last year, in this post I want to take a look at a free online journal that carries a special section on Responsible Innovation, and loads of interesting and maybe useful information about EU funded projects and forthcoming calls.

The Project Repository Journal (PRj) is the European Dissemination Media Agency (EDMA)’s flagship open access publication dedicated to showcasing funded science and research throughout Europe. Projects that are funded either by the European Commission, through one of their current schemes such as with an ERC grant or via Horizon 2020, or has received a grant from one of their National Research Councils or European funding agencies can publish in the journal, having the freedom to present their goals, ambitions and up to date research findings to a community that makes a difference to science going forward.

The current issue contains a host of interesting articles that are related to recent publications on our site: The need to improve internal combustion engines that will run in hybrid electric cars,  an introduction to European space sector investment, Smart maintenance of rail stock to enhance passenger experience, the workings of the Next-Net technology network with the aim of improving supply networks, autism, a sustainable plastic competition, urban waste management, African bio-challenges and changes, plenty of great stuff.

And regarding my own interests this issue contains an RRI Special Feature between pages 54 to 67.

This section presents the work of four funded Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) projects: Nucleus, Fit4RRI, RRING and RRI-Practice, large projects that work on guiding policy for the future of Responsible Innovation, training tools and their use, global collaboration and funding strategies.

Another interesting section offers an overview of forthcoming EU calls for funding, so you can get an idea of what the EU is doing to promote this idea and more importantly how much money they are investing (maybe you could get hold of some yourself).

The journal a free download, following the EU mantra of distributing knowledge for free, so well worth a look. Each of these projects also had downloadable documents if you want to delve further. The articles that we find here are written by people at the cutting edge of research in this field, so anyone with a moment of free time can certainly learn something.