While the pandemic has brought many challenges, restrictions like social distancing rules and staff shortages are driving considerable innovation. Some are brilliantly simple- like a mask with a transparent mouth guard to help deaf people lip read. Many innovations are in the field of robotics, from restaurant deliveries to cleaning.


It’s almost a year and a half since Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak began, went into lockdown marking the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions. In that time, there have been many innovative ideas to help us live with the virus and return to work and leisure safely.


Grocery shopping boomed during the pandemic, with much of the growth coming from online – a service relied on by many of those shielding from the virus. But many of those most at risk from COVID-19 are still wary of coming into stores, because of the possibility of the virus living on surfaces that are frequently touched – like the handle on a fridge door.


An innovative solution that can allow customers to open chiller cabinets with their clothed arms instead of their hands is a long curved handle. These handles can be attached to the cabinet doors by clicking them on. Customers can use these handles by placing their arm on the curve of the handle and pulling it.


These handles can be made using a 3D printer. Instead of using fresh thermoplastics, we can use recycled plastic for the making of these handles. This way, it is more efficient and it’s good for the environment.


At the height of the lockdown, retail analysts, Kantar, studied social media for clues about what people were most looking forward to doing when lockdowns were eased. The top two desires included eating out and going out with friends.


An innovation to offer outdoor dining in the age of the coronavirus is to build small cabins built for two or three people, creating small cocoon-like structures. Waiters can wear gloves and transparent face shields, and use a longboard to bring dishes into the glass cabin to ensure minimal physical contact with customers.


With limited capacities and with social distancing and proper safety measures in place, we can once again start going out with friends and family.


Now is the time for global solidarity and support, especially with the most vulnerable in our societies, particularly in the emerging and developing world. By working together, we can overcome the pandemic’s interconnected health, social, and economic consequences and prevent it from escalating into a long humanitarian disaster that threatens to destroy our society.


We must think of more innovations that can help everyone get through this pandemic. Only then can we protect the health, livelihoods, food security and nutrition of all people, and ensure that our ‘new normal’ is a better one.

~ Hana Fatma, 11 B