Health, Medicine, Biotech
As vaccine approval nears, you've no doubt heard proposals to speed up vaccine testing with what is known as a "challenge" trial, where you deliberately infect volunteers with the virus. This approach is controversial, but has been around for some time. There are already organizations collecting volunteers, and tens of thousands have signed up.
It occurred to me, learning that 80% of Covid infected patients lose their sense of smell (Anosmia) that it should be possible to build the cheapest and most effective Covid screener (for use at entrances to schools/airports/buildings/restaurants) with a simple "scratch-n-sniff" card. These cards, which cost pennies, would come with a set of scratch squares, and under each would be boxes with the names of possible scents. A QR code would (encrypted) have the answer. You sniff, check the boxes and then a phone or other device scans your answer.
What if you give somebody a disease that harms them? It is legal to sue over this, and to have wrongful death lawsuits by the survivors. Wrongful death lawsuits, according to one recent North Carolina study, fetched about $1.4M on average, though they are going to vary a lot. They combine lost income with pain and suffering by the survivors.
If you read my earlier report on efforts to convert CPAP machines into ventilators with new firmwware the good news is that the feared massive ventilator shortage seems (for now) to have been avoided.
If simple ventilators (such as BiPAP machines with new firmware, or other new designs) go into use, they need another device to give them some of the functions of ventilators, such as screens, user interfaces and more. I suggest this be done with a suitable (used) laptop computer connected to the ventilators over USB or other protocol. The software would be written to operate on Linux or similar free OS, then places on a flash card, USB stick or replacement drive to give a uniform enviroment.
In the health care debate, a major complaint is the cost of drugs in the USA compared to other countries. This is normally blamed on the pharma companies or patents, but I've learned that the pharmacies can be a giant part.
I've been mulling a bit over the philosophy of law, and one concept I have been exploring is that a key to understanding a major class of immoral acts is to look at attempts to exploit flaws in human cognition and physiology. There's been a reasonable amount of scientific study of the "bugs" in the way humans think by economists, game theorists and psychologists, and while some of the bugs are debatable, some are fairly undisputed. This might help build moral codes.
The pharma industry is littered with cases of drugs that showed good promise, but proved to be too dangerous when they got into human trials. Dangerous side effects will cancel development for most drugs. In some cases, such as Vioxx and Fen-Phen the dangerous effects were discovered later, and the drugs pulled from the market.
I have written a few times before about versed, the memory drug and the ethical and metaphysical questions that surround it. I was pointed today to a story from Time about propofol, which like the Men in Black neuralizer pen, can erase the last few minutes of your memory from before you are injected with it. This is different from Versed, which stops you from recording memories after you take it.
Those who know about my phone startup Voxable will know I have far more ambitious goals regarding presence and telephony, but during my recent hospital stay, I thought of a simple subset idea that could make hospital phone systems much better for the patient, namely a way to easily specifiy whether it's a good time to call the patient or not. Something as simple as a toggle switch on the phone, or with standard phones, a couple of magic extensions they can dial to set whether it's good or not.