COVID-19 left so many scars—deaths in the global millions, a legacy of economic upheaval, long COVID, and a lingering sense of vulnerability. There is just no going back to the way things were. Worse still is a realization that the world likely never was as safe as it seemed in 2019 – and the threat of what will come next.
I feel slightly better about the legacy of COVID when I think of the innovation spurred by the pandemic. From the astonishing tale of the COVID-19 vaccines to the myriad of technological solutions provided to a pandemic world, COVID-19 also provides a legacy of innovation in its response.
One of those solutions is the Microwash, the newest business added to the UNeTech business portfolio. Created in response to the hazards and complexities faced by nurses testing thousands and thousands of people for a contagious and deadly disease, the Microwash is another legacy of COVID-19. The Microwash is based on observations by inventors Dr. Thang Nguyen, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UNMC, and Dr. Michael Wadman, Chairman of the Department of emergency medicine, UNMC, that:
- painful swabbing deterred people from getting tested,
- put the nursing staff at risk,
- and generally made COVID testing, an essential part of public safety, harder than it had to be.
Their solution is a simple, inexpensive, self-contained nasal irrigation system. The device is easy for people to self-administer and comfortable for repeated usage. It is a solution that only could have come in a time when a phrase like ‘brain tickling’ was part of the zeitgeist. Over the next few weeks, UNeTech will help to tell the story of the Microwash. It’s a cool technology story, an interesting entrepreneurial story, and a fascinating tale of the future of medical innovation.
For me, it’s a story about the pandemic. I like Kintsugi. The Japanese technique takes a broken piece of pottery and mends it using bright seals of gold. COVID broke the world. Even re-assembled, those cracks will always be there. I like to think that while we cannot make those cracks go away, we can use them to make something new: not better or worse but different. For all the Pandemic has taken from the world, its legacy will also be resilience, innovation, and improvement. I look forward to sharing the story of the Microwash as a small part of how the things that break us can also make us stronger, and ready for the next challenge.