Imaging industry giants stepping up to help quell deadly coronavirus threat

Big-name players in the imaging industry are stepping up to address the growing threat of the coronavirus, which has now killed more than 360 individuals and sickened thousands more.

The World Health Organization last week labeled the disease as a public health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed the first person-to-person transfer in the U.S. on Jan. 30. Computed tomography and other imaging tools have proven pivotal in helping radiologists to pinpoint the virus, researchers reported recently. But with some hospitals having scant access to the latest technology, corporations such as Siemens and Canon are providing machines to help radiologists keep a finger on the pulse of the epidemic.

Amsterdam-based Philips’ Foundation, for one, is donating a CT scanner and ultrasound machine—to help assess respiratory complications from the disease—to the Thunder God Mountain Hospital in Wuhan, China. The gift also includes patient monitors, ventilators, defibrillators, air purifiers and its own knowledge base, according to an announcement.

“Considering the relief it could bring by helping to provide access to care and prevention at this time of crisis, we have worked fast to get this donation and expertise across,” Philips Foundation Director Margot Cooijmans said in a statement.

Tokyo-based Canon announced Jan. 30 that it’s also donating a full-body CT system to the Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, which is at the epicenter of the outbreak. Company officials said the x-ray device will aid in assessing emphysema caused by the novel coronavirus. Their motivation, in particular, is to help support medical professionals who have contracted the disease, officials noted.  

Siemens Healthineers has similarly supplied two ultrasound machines and a CT scanner to two hospitals in Wuhan, Reuters reported Feb. 1. One of the ultrasound machines was donated, a spokesman for the German company told the news service, with all delivered on short notice. A report in the Lancet indicated that about 30% of patients with coronavirus develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that often requires a ventilator. GE Healthcare has seen a surge in sales for one of its respirators in recent weeks following the outbreak, WKOW reported.