The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life and has disrupted normalcy. Social media is filled with funny memes as people try to make light of the quarantine to get a few laughs during such tough times. And then there’s the entrepreneurs and inventors, who’ve used their time to create products to help their fellow man get through the Coronavirus crisis. One such young man is 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann who invented a virus tracker. It’s been such a success that he’s been offered millions of dollars just to post ads on the website – an offer he turned down.
Schiffmann worked hours building the informational site, and then hours more trying to keep up with all the traffic and changes. Currently, it offers real-time updates and statistics for countries across the globe on Coronavirus deaths, recoveries, and infections. The information is pulled from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC), and other official websites. It also has handy tips on safety guidelines for hygiene, a list of COVID symptoms, and even a survival rate calculator.
“In the future, I hope pressure is on the WHO” to develop such tools, the teen said. “The responsibility shouldn’t be on some random kid, but it’s obvious that people want to know the statistics.” Although he said the work has “taken over my life,” he still said he would “gladly take on the pressure.”
The site’s popularity can be seen with 30 million visitors each day with more than 700 million views so far. That amount of traffic has led to companies wishing to place their ads to reach Schiffmann’s audience, and in fact, one company offered him $8 million to keep the site active, which the teen refused.
“I’m only 17, I don’t need $US8 million,” Schiffmann said. “I don’t want to be a profiteer.” Placing ads on the site could slow it down or cause issues for those who have slow internet connections, which is one of the biggest reasons he decided against accepting them. He also did not want to get involved in a contract that would legally bind him into keeping the site up to date for a determined amount of time.
“I don’t want it to leave a stain on things in the future,” he explained. “People think I’ll regret that decision, but I plan to do many things in the future.”
Elsewhere, in Haiti, 18-year-old Wens Dimanche wanted to do something to help his community during the pandemic and came up with an electric hand-washing system to diminish the chance of spreading the virus. He placed the contraption – a bucket of water connected to a foot pedal – in his backyard and has given access to it for anyone who’d like to use it.
“I made this electric bucket because I feared that if a person has the virus on their hands and they touch the faucet to turn it on, they could contaminate not only the faucet but also their neighbors,” Dimanche explained. “So, I wanted to find a way to solve that problem.”
And in the United Kingdom, 19-year-old Mike Andrew from Kinnerton set up a delivery service to reach people who live in remote areas that are too far out for most delivery companies. His business, which he’s named Runaround, operates Monday through Friday from 1-9 p.m. He uses his own vehicle to make the deliveries and customers can place their orders on an app and receive notifications once the order is received, when it’s being processed (shopped for), and when it is out for delivery.