South Africans have always been innovative, but during the last year, these innovations have been to help each other through the global pandemic.
South Africa (22 February 2021) – Innovation thrives in countries where there are fewer options. Covid-19 has hit many countries, but in South Africa, it has been felt in every corner. Looking for a positive, there has been plenty of innovation related to the pandemic. During this pandemic, we have witnessed many success stories as South Africans innovated new ways to better their own lives and those around them.
A Good Things Guy reader feeling despondent about the news surrounding the virus in South Africa reached out to ask if we could list all the Proudly South African Covid-19 Innovations.
These innovations have been developed specifically to ease the pressure of the pandemic on our healthcare system. Let’s take a look.
Prof Tahir Pillay, Dr Bettina Chale-Matsau, and Mr Reggie Govender -Rapid Test for SARS-CoV2.
Professor Tahir Pillay, Dr Bettina Chale-Matsau, and Mr Reggie Govender led the innovation to create a rapid test for the pandemic in South Africa. The innovation went on to win the top prize for the 2020 Innovation Hub’s competition with the Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP).
MicroMab Diagnostics / UP received the first prize for their innovation: A rapid and cheap test strip/kit for SARS-CoV2 using nanobodies, a special type of antibody produced in bacteria, to detect viral proteins. This technology will result in several rapid tests for diagnosis during acute infection and for diagnosis of carrier states based on viral protein antigen detection.
Lindiwe Matlali – Africa Teen Geeks.
Lindiwe Matlali established Africa Teen Geeks to give South African children the opportunity to access computing education and to inspire Africa’s future generation of entrepreneurs in science and technology. Africa Teen Geeks was a direct response to the needs of those disproportionally affected by the COVID pandemic.
This social innovation has been recognised globally, and Lindiwe is one of 23 changemakers internationally being recognised for social innovation by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
Envirosan – Hand Washing Device for Informal Settlements.
Due to the central role of hand-washing in slowing the transmission of COVID-19, a small pilot project was run in an informal settlement north of Johannesburg using a novel innovation manufactured by South African company Envirosan.
The simple hand-washing unit comprises a standard two-litre plastic bottle that is fitted with a self-closing tip tap valve. The bottle is placed into a wall-mounted plastic bracket incorporating a ribbed soap holder and peg to accommodate a face cloth or small towel.
It was picked up by a few corporations that helped fund the installation in several informal settlements across Gauteng.
OxERA (Oxygen-Efficient Respiratory Aid) – Gabler Medical
This proudly South African invention, named OxERA (Oxygen-Efficient Respiratory Aid), could be a game-changer where there are a large number of COVID-19 patients yet a lack of skilled staff, ICU and high care facilities; and insufficient bulk oxygen supplies. It effectively bridges the gap between current standard oxygen therapy via face masks and ICU-based non-invasive or mechanical ventilation while requiring no more oxygen flow than a standard face mask.
The device was developed by a group of East London-based volunteers that includes doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has now approved the OxERA device for emergency COVID-19 use, which will be manufactured and distributed by Gabler Medical.
As always with our lists, if we have missed any innovations you think need to be seen, reach out to us and let us know. We are always happy to report on all the Proudly South African good news.