It’s a good thing that Ebola is breaking out in the 21st century, because only now do we have the means to stop it in its tracks.
Sure, Ebola spreads fast and has the potential to turn into a terrifying global pandemic. But we now have an array of new tools and technologies that could allow America and the world to rapidly respond in unprecedented ways.
One key problem is getting the new tools and techniques approved and adopted by the federal government and other responsible international agencies so they can quickly be used in the field. Well-intentioned rules and regulations slow down the adoption process in order to safeguard public health through thorough testing in normal times. And well-meaning government officials are not used to moving at the pace of tech companies or accepting the Silicon Valley style of rapid prototyping and continuous iteration.
This roundtable on how to Reinvent Technology Stopping Ebola will bring together innovators from inside and outside government to figure out ways to accelerate the technology adoption process to more effectively fight Ebola – and other diseases that might come in the decades ahead. This would be a win-win for all sides and for all of us.
Take the case of a very promising mobile diagnostic startup in the Bay Area called Nanomix. Among its early successes is what may be the only successful, field-tested, rapid Ebola test, a product they developed with a Colorado based partner, Corgenix.
In the last few weeks they have been meeting with key players in the U.S. government and the NGO community to try to find a way despite the lack of Federal Food and Drug Administration approval to get their test into the field and saving lives.
With proper support and approval they could have millions of the low-cost rapid tests into Africa this year, and millions of a much more sophisticated test in 6-10 months. These tests will cut the results waiting time from eight hours or even days to minutes, and is far more likely to have a dramatic impact on the current epidemic than any vaccine being tested now. You can read a piece from former Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist on why a rapid test matters so much here.
Garrett Gruener, the Nanomix Chairman who will participate in the roundtable, said the FDA is doing a great job adjusting to the challenging new circumstances and have recently posted emergency protocols for the approval of new devices. But much more can be done.
Join us as we work on a pressing new challenge in real time. We’ll use the new tool of interactive group video to quickly pull together the right minds to accelerate needed innovation in this space.
Once again, it’s lucky this disease is breaking out in the 21st century, or else we would have to hold this conversation at a conference next year….