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CovidTestDrone enables self-administered COVID-19 tests to be delivered within minutes to patient’s homes via drone delivery.

The year is 2021, a year that I am quite sure will be imprinted in our history books. This year and the previous have been unlike any we experienced before; we were struck by a blight that nobody saw coming, a virus that threatened our species. This virus was a testimonial to the power of the world, the dominance of nature over humanity, the fact that we are merely chess pieces played by higher orders in the game of life.

Before the pandemic we were all living our lives, stuck in our routines. But the pandemic managed to change the world’s priorities dramatically. It made us look up and realise that our lives, our existence, is granted by the stability and perfection of this world. We realised that this balance is fragile, and that a disturbance at a global level ripples into our own lives.

The pandemic made us achieve something that can be regarded as very rare these days – unity, the unity of humanity against a common threat. Diplomatic walls were taken down while bridges were being built. Humanity collaborated not to destroy one another, but to help each other. Our priorities changed, from exceling in our lives, to working together against a common threat.

We adapted our work and lives to reflect the changes needed for us to get through the pandemic. We looked outside our bubble and took actions that would not only help ourselves, but the whole world. We created protocols where there were none in place and innovated solutions to new problems that arose.

Science is in the front-line of the pandemic. People are working tirelessly all over the world, finding solutions to the many problems the pandemic introduced. While we are all focusing on the vaccine and frontline workers, there are many working behind closed doors: keeping servers running so we can keep in touch with one another, maintaining law and order in this time of crisis and so on. The truth is that all of us play a significant role in curbing the virus, in creating balance in this world. For that, I want to extend a thank you not only to the frontline workers, but to everyone in the world for going above and beyond to rebuild balance in this fragile world.

One of the innovations that helped us the most in the pandemic, was the release of the COVID test. This was the first step in combatting the virus, allowing us to identify a member of the population that had the virus and take appropriate actions to prevent the virus from spreading from that person.

Over time, we iterated over our protocols for administering tests, each country going about a procedure they deem suitable for testing the population. In Ireland, people can get a free test provided by the government after a GP inspection confirms the presence of symptoms of the virus in the individual. There is also the option to get a private test which must be paid for.

No procedure is perfect: it takes on average 1.3 days to be referred for a testing appointment. There is also a waiting time of about 46 hours to get the results back. But that is only if the patient gets tested because they have symptoms. Contact tracing can take up to 5 days and only after that can a close contact be scheduled for testing.

There have also been cases when people had to wait over a week to get tested. The government provides all people that are awaiting to get tested with an income subsidy while they stay at home in many countries. This adds a lot of expenses for the government, so it is in their interest to keep this waiting time as low as possible.

There are many challenges people face when getting tested: it can be very challenging for people living far from a testing centre to get tested for the virus. They would need a means of transport to get to the testing facility. Many people that live in the city use public transport to get around, it is not a good idea to mix with people, especially when you know that you may have the virus.

Others may be living in rural areas and not have a means of getting to the nearest testing facility or simply may choose not to get tested as it would be too difficult. But even if one owns a car, one may not have someone else that can drive one to a centre and may be too ill to get there themselves.

Then there is the problem of the testing centre; dozens of people congested together, waiting to get tested. While there is strict hygiene in place, I would personally still feel a bit insecure being in the proximity of another person that is getting tested for the virus.

And finally, I must bring up the test itself. After talking to people that had the test, I learned that the experience is not something one would look forward to. Tests should not be a pain to sit through.

I asked myself how testing can be improved. Particularly how access to testing can be made faster and more comfortable. What if there were no waiting time or the need to talk to a GP to get a COVID test? What if you could decide to get tested and get your results back the same day? What if you did not have to wait in queues at a testing centre before getting tested? What if you could get your test done from the comfort of your home? What if administering the swab would be comfortable?”

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