I’m sure most of us were expecting something different to happen when 2020 rolled in; perhaps the debut of an actual flying car, advancement in hologram technology, or simply just achieving your new year resolutions. Instead, we experienced something far more different that would change lives, while taking more than half a million of it worldwide at the same time: the COVID-19 coronavirus.
At this moment, we are well aware of how much terror this global crisis has caused. Countries are required to initiate countermeasures such as lockdowns, restrictive movements, banning international and even domestic travel, and so on. This ever rising sense of urgency also saw changes in major corporations and brands – many of which are unexpected – who have shifted their focus to help the cause of curbing the pandemic.
Before I list down these companies, I’m pretty sure most people are thinking “Oh, it’s all about PR and reputation in the end,” and I honestly don’t disagree with that thought. However, these companies do have the funding and resources to contribute to the effort, and the world currently needs all the help that it can get.
From Megapixels To Microbes
Canon and Fujifilm, two japanese companies that are renown in the camera industry, are focusing their subsidiary medical divisions to develop solutions for the pandemic. Both companies are currently working on their separate rapid testing platforms that can detect COVID-19 results in a short duration of time.
In collaboration with Nagasaki University, Canon Medical Systems have developed a portable testing kit that uses samples from a patient’s nose or throat which can determine results in approximately 10 minutes. The company claims it can check nearly 700 samples a day if it runs around the clock.
Fujifilm, on the other hand, has manufactured a testing kit that would speed up results by two hours. The kit was developed by Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical and is claimed to be faster than existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Additionally, the company is also considering to offer its Avigan anti-influenza drug for free to other countries looking to use it to treat new coronavirus patients. Its subsidiary, Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co, has also begun testing of a new drug known as Favipiravir for COVID-19 treatment.
Drive To Survive
Several automakers have chimed into the coronavirus effort including Ford, General Motors (GM) , Jaguar, and Land Rover. Aside from money donations to the cause, these companies are also helping front-liners by manufacturing additional ventilators, as well as providing other means of assistance.
Ford is currently working to help General Electric (GE) increase production of their ventilators for medical facilities in the country, as well as producing additional masks and protective hoods for health workers. GM is manufacturing more complicated ventilators, with plans to eventually release 10,000 units per month.
British companies, Jaguar and Land Rover, will deploy more than 160 vehicles to organisations including the British Red Cross and the Red Cross Societies in Australia, Spain, South Africa, and France. These companies were also approached by the UK government to help manufacture ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Dress To Suppress
Tossing aside their high fashion standards, luxury apparel brands such as Armani, Chanel and others have stepped up to help produce additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front-liners. The brands have converted their respective factories to increase production capacities of single-use masks and medical overalls, which are currently in high demand.
Burberry aims to deliver more than 100,000 surgical masks to the UK National Health Service, as well as providing funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. Prada also is producing 110,000 masks and 80,000 medical garments that will be delivered to hospitals in Tuscan, Italy. Other brands that are focusing on producing PPEs and other medical supplies include Bulgari, Kering, H&M, Mango, Zara, and many others.
In the local scene, Malaysia Official Designers Association (MODA) is partnering with FashionValet and IMARET to help the effort by buying materials and making PPEs for our front-liners. The initiative includes local designers including Dato Radzuan Radziwill, Khoon Hooi, Alia Bastamam, and Celest Thoi, among the many that are volunteering to produce these medical gowns.
Hospitality For Front-Liners
Small toy figures are seen in front of diplayed Airbnb logo in this illustration taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Airbnb recently launched a new program that provides free housing for front-liners who are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. The company is seeking assistance from property owners who list their homes via the platform to have it available for these individuals.
This is to allow front-liners to be closer to their work site or to self-quarantine away from their families during their line of duty. Airbnb aims to offer lodging to 100,000 individuals under the program, and reported that 12,000 hosts have volunteered to help with the cause.
The company also prepared a list of cleaning and safety protocols for hosts participating in the full program. Additionally, it states that only listings of entire homes are eligible to be offered to front-liners.
Meanwhile, Malaysian hotel chain Tune Hotels offers free lodging to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (HKL) healthcare workers at its nearby Putra World Trade Centre branch. The company notes that all 130 rooms at the hotel branch are made available to the workers, adding that complimentary breakfast is also provided to those who are staying overnight. Additionally, the hotel chain is also offering special rates at their KLIA1 and 2 branches to stranded flight passengers due to the pandemic crisis.
OYO Malaysia is also offering free rooms at its partner hotels to healthcare personnel. These hotels are located within a 5km radius of Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Shah Alam and Hospital Tuanku Jaafar in Seremban.
Not forgetting other noteworthy brands such as Razer and Sharp (see what I did there?) who have converted their manufacturing lines to produce more face masks, while Dyson are helping hospitals in the UK by producing its own ventilators. Back home, local airliner Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB) are mobilising its fleet to transport additional medical supplies and equipment internationally and domestically.
Do keep in mind that there are plenty other brands that are not listed above who are also contributing donations and resources to help countries around the globe to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the list continues to grow every passing day with more and more companies and individuals stepping up.
Remember, you could help out as well. It’s not recommended that you pull your socks and head out to help our brave comrades on the front-lines, but you could instead provide your assistance by donating to the cause via this list. Else, you could just stay at home, because that is – believe it or not – one of the most important things we can do to stop the coronavirus from further spreading.
We’re all in this together. Stay home and stay safe, everyone.