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Southeast Asian innovations against COVID-19

  • Date modified: November 12, 2020
The world's brightest minds are lining up in the fight against the new corona virus. Over the last years, Southeast Asia has become a hotspot for tech and creativity. Universities, governments, and companies are now joining ranks to develop the best technologies, applications and other innovations that can help authorities to fight the virus. Emerging Market Experts (EMEx) has published a brief overview of several inventions and innovations used by Southeast Asian countries in these uncertain times.

This is an Emerging Market Experts (EMEx) production. For critical guidance during the COVID-19 crisis please check out our services or contact us. For more information about Southeast Asia's innovative infrastructure and investment opportunities please take a look at our services or contact us.

 The Philippines

 COVID 19 test kit

One of the first big breakthroughs in the Philippines is a COVID-19 diagnostic set, also called the GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit. It is developed by 'the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH)'. The team started developing the kit in January, right after Chinese scientists released the complete genome sequence of the virus. The costs of production are about $26 USD per test which is a big difference with imported tests costing about $168 USD per test. The Philippines faced a big shortage of tests but the invention, already up for production, will be a big boost in helping the authorities to contain the virus. Currently, the inventors have testing kits in production good for around 120,000 tests. The inventors are part of the same team that developed the 'lab-in-a-mug' test kits for dengue.


Disinfection Chamber

Vietnam has launched the use of a mobile disinfection chamber. The chamber was developed by the 'Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology' in partnership with 'the Centre of Science and Technology Development for Youth'. It is expected to be installed in areas at high risk of COVID-19 infections such as quarantine zones. The developers also think about placing the room in strategic areas where many people come together, regardless of the severity of social restriction measures, such as hospitals, supermarkets, railway and bus stations, airports, offices, and schools. The main compenent of the chamber is a 360-degree fog mist sprayer which serves as a strong disinfectant. It is automatically activated when someone steps in the chamber. A complete round of disinfection takes about 30 seconds to complete.


WinMasks 780x470

Thailand has developed its own washable mask for local healthcare workers. ‘The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation’ has partnered with ‘the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT)’, ‘the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna’, ‘the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS)’, and ‘the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology’ to develop the 'Washable Innovative Nano-Masks' or 'WIN-masks'. The mask is intended for medical personnel to prevent the spread of the virus and, thanks to special fabrics woven into the mask, can be washed out and re-used. This mask will be a big help in preventing shortages for medical staff. Shortages are a big risk since there is a high global demand for masks but also because of supply chain disruptions that make it harder to get raw materials and produce it. The inavailability of masks could undermine Thailand's efforts combatting the spread of the virus and protecting its healthcare workers.



'The Faculty of Medicine University of Indonesia' has partnered with European universities and companies to develop a system that can quickly diagnose patients. The software scans lung photos and uses artificial intelligence to speed up diagnoses. The product has been named CAD4COVID (Computer Aided Detection for COVID-19). The detection software is based on an already existing product and technology, CAD4TB, which can diagnose tuberculosis. The technology is therefore already tested and proven according to the team behind the product. The software can estimate the percentage of COVID-19 related deviations. The results are shown on a so-called heatmap as shown above in the picture.


image 1

The Malaysian company Madison Technologies has developed CovCT, an independent contact tracing platform. The technology has to help healthcare workers tracking patients steps in the day before they were diagnosed with the corona virus. Building managements, business owners and community leaders can register their venue on the website. A CovCT kit will be provided to them which includes instructions and the unique QR Code poster which can be printed and placed in their venue. All visitors can check-in by scanning the QR code. This makes it more manageable for health authorities across the globe to check where patients have been.


Trace Together 2

Trace Together was launched on Friday 20 March and is the latest mobile application by the Singaporean government to combat the spread of COVID-19. It was developed by 'the Government Technology Agency (GovTech)' and 'the Ministry of Health'. By downloading the app, users consent to participate and they allow the app to help with the contact tracing process. Users have to turn on their bluetooth and enable push notifications and location permissions. Short-distance signals between phones allow the app to detect other users of the app who are close by, according to a press release. Records will be stored in the users' phones and not shared with the government. They will only be asked to share those records as part of contact tracing investigations. Current investigations are build upon the memories of infected patients which are often incomplete or flawed. This application strengthens those important investigations. Singapore plans to release the app as open source so other countries can use the tech as well.

Tjeerd S. Ritmeester

This is an Emerging Market Experts (EMEx) production. For critical guidance during the COVID-19 crisis please check out our services or contact us. For more information about Southeast Asia's innovative infrastructure and investment opportunities please take a look at our services or contact us.

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