A new COVID-19 innovation popped up, as a hospital in Latvia has installed the first of many COVID-19 vending machines in the European nation as countries come up with new and creative ways to slow the spread of coronavirus. The machine located at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital in Riga, Latvia, is the first of 100 devices used throughout the country. It is the first known vending machine of its kind in the world.
The vending machine dispenses polymerase chain reaction (PRC) swab tests. When finished, a lab technician takes the tests, and the results return within 24 hours. The machine’s automation and functionality reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19 itself, as it removes the need for two to five on-site medical personnel. The tests will cost about 53 euros, or $64 retail. According to a doctor’s assistant, the machine’s tests are easy to use and take just seconds. All it takes is spitting into a jar, closing it, and putting it back in the machine.
With the vending machine being the first of its kind, other countries in the European Union and beyond will likely keep a close eye on Latvia and how the effectiveness of the vending machine plays out over its first few weeks of operation. The death toll in Latvia is 288 as of Thursday. Can Latvia use these intuitive machines to help slow the spread in not only their own country but abroad?
It will take this kind of innovation for the spread of the virus to slow before a vaccine is fully functional in our society. While we are in the early stages, it may be months before we see the impact of the vaccine. These vending machines can be used as additional testing at multiple places and pop up all around the world if it is both cost-effective and efficient in distributing accurate COVID-19 tests.
Latvia has a population of 1.92 million and has had 22,816 COVID-19 cases to date. With the implementation of the vending machines, they will be able to test frontline workers and civilians with more frequency.
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