New Technology in Jamaica Can Stem COVID-19 Spread

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SEATTLE, Washington — While many incredible non-governmental organizations and nonprofits are fighting global poverty from the outside, it is also essential to recognize the innovative people fighting their situation from within their countries. One of these people is Rayvon Stewart, who has invented a device that kills bacteria on doorknobs. The catalyst for this invention began five years ago in Jamaica when a lethal bacteria called Klebsiella infected 40 babies in Jamaican hospitals, killing half of them. Due to Jamaica’s precarious financial situation and its $14.3 billion national debt, its healthcare system lacks proper funding and staff, causing many health clinics to become overcrowded and more vulnerable to viruses. This situation inspired Stewart to better healthcare in Jamaica by creating a new technology that can stem the spread of viruses.

Xermosol

Rayvon Stewart, a student at Jamaica’s University of Technology, dubbed his new invention Xermosol, which automatically disinfects door knobs and handles after every use. The device is easy to install and uses ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms without harming those using the doorknobs. Stewart made this invention specifically for public spaces such as hospitals and health clinics to prevent situations like the Klebsiella outbreak.

Stewart was selected as a finalist at the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in Geneva for his innovative approach to preventing cross-contamination. He took part in the exhibition titled “Universal Health Coverage: Reaching the unreached, ensuring that no-one is left behind,” which featured how young people are using technology to fight the issues plaguing those living in poverty. Utilizing his knack for innovation and technology, Stewart is working towards his goal of saving lives. He and his team are currently developing a prototype of Xermosol in Jamaica.

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

Xermosol has a more significant potential today amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the virus can last on surfaces for around two to three days. It recommends regularly disinfecting commonly used surfaces to stem its spread. Xermosol was able to kill Klebsiella bacteria on doorknobs in Jamaica, and like Klebsiella, the coronavirus can be spread through contaminated surfaces. These similarities show that even though Stewart invented Xermosol to fight viruses like Klebsiella, it will be valuable in fighting COVID-19. Through laboratory testing, Xermosol has proven to kill more than 99.9% of deadly pathogens. These tests have also discovered that the invention can destroy organisms such as MRSA, E-coli and other viral cells such as influenza virus H1N1.

The main challenge that Stewart and his team currently face is acquiring proper funding and a manufacturer for production. However, the Commonwealth, an association of 54 partner countries, is currently discussing the idea of partnering with the Global Innovation Fund to help innovators like Stewart. Initiatives like these show how various countries and organizations can cooperate in funding inventions that contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

Looking Forward

To assist the global response to COVID-19, nations and international organizations should support innovators, like student Rayvon Stewart, who help protect their country against viral diseases. The future looks bright for Stewart, as his invention can save millions and improve technology in Jamaica and across the world. Even though we live in uncertain times, it is people like Stewart that continue to provide hope for a brighter future.

Natascha Holenstein
Photo: Unsplash

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