Meet William Broadway, the Anti-Pharma Bro
"It should be a basic human right, in my opinion, to have a vaccination."
Last September, when Martin Shkreli (aka “Pharma Bro”) raised the price of Daraprim, an anti-parasitic drug critical for treating toxoplasmosis and preventing malaria, by more than 5,000 percent, he sent the internet into a frenzy of anger. A lot can change in a year.
Meet William Broadway, a 22-year old engineering student at Loughborough University and the inventor of Isobar, a portable cooling system for life-saving vaccines. Globally, immunization saves two to three million lives each year, and the WHO estimates that an additional 1.5 million lives could be saved if vaccine coverage is improved. Broadway’s invention has the potential to save millions of lives, and, unlike Shkreli, the inventor does not intend to make a profit off of it.
Broadway’s invention actually harkens back to an idea first posited by the one and only Albert Einstein in the 1920s. The “Icyball,” Einstein’s absorption refrigerator, would have allowed farmers to have access to off-the-grid refrigeration. However, despite taking out 45 patents in six countries, Einstein’s fridge never took off.
Now, the idea has taken a new form. Broadway’s Isobar is sleek and portable, and takes the shape of a white pill. It can fit in a small, insulated backpack, which makes it uniquely adaptable to traveling with in rougher terrains. The battery life runs for approximately six days, and can be recharged with either electricity or propane.
Broadway’s invention comes at a critical time, as a lack of vaccination continues to be a grave problem in many parts of the world. According to UNICEF, more than 30 million children are unimmunized.
The inventor plans to continue working on the Isobar. He received a £2,000 stipend from the James Dyson foundation, but does not intend to patent the invention so as to allow for more widespread use.
"I wanted to make something for people who have next to nothing. It should be a basic human right, in my opinion, to have a vaccination,” he told the BBC.
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