How COVID-19 continues to shape the world of medical technology

Emma Sy, Contributing Writer

The medical technology field has made significant improvements since COVID-19 hit.  Scientists and medical professionals have worked tirelessly to create a vaccine for this deadly virus, skiing with other significant advancements in the medical field.  This pandemic has also led to many major breakthroughs for other diseases.

Significant changes have been made in the way healthcare was offered because physical contact needed to be reduced.  Before the pandemic, widespread adoption of telehealth was relatively slow.  However, the virus broke that barrier, and telehealth became an efficient way to deliver primary and specialty care.  

In addition to supporting social distancing, telehealth reduces strain on healthcare systems by minimizing patient demand in facilities, and provides healthcare access to  those who are medically and socially vulnerable but may not.  Telehealth is not just used for COVID patients, but also for chronic health conditions, physical therapy, mental health, and more.

“I think telehealth is probably one of the most effective and positive things that came out of this pandemic because it gives a chance to everyone to be able to see a healthcare provider in a safe and efficient way,” said junior Kiera Darnell. 

Another obvious breakthrough in science technology was the COVID-19 vaccine.  The Moderna and Pfizer/BioTech Covid-19 shots are mRNA vaccines.  This means unlike other vaccines, they use mRNA instead of a dead or inactivated version of the virus.  Once the vaccine is injected, the mRNA tells your body to produce a “spike protein” present on the surface of the SARS- Cov2 virus.  The cells in your body follow these instructions and make the protein, causing the body to produce antibodies.  The fact that we were able to produce an mRNA vaccine for COVID means it is possible to produce mRNA vaccines for other diseases.  The mRNA vaccines are great alternatives compared to previous vaccines due to their high potency, capacity for rapid developments, and potentially low manufacturing cost.   Prior to the pandemic, scientists and medical field workers were working to make mRNA vaccines possible.  The global pandemic allowed those scientists to test their work.

“I think the mRNA vaccines are a crazy breakthrough in medicine because it’s able to target many different types of diseases, and it’s even better that you can produce high quantities for low cost,” said junior Marissa Cichon. 

Predictive analytics has also become important during the pandemic.  Hospitals nationwide have created new tools to predict how the virus will play out.  The Cleveland Clinic created a COVID-19 risk calculator that generates predictions about the chance of getting COVID-19 based on a patient’s age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, current medications, and vaccination history.  This calculator also benefits hospital systems because it more efficiently distributes vaccinations, reducing the amount of wasted ones.

“I think the calculator is something that can be very useful in the way it saves the amount of product consumption and can save the important medical tools for the people who really need them,” said junior Olivia Platt.