5 Technological Advances that Are Limiting the Spread of the Coronavirus

The global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) The number of cases of Covid-19 across the globe continues to increase. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of this date, there have been 68,440 confirmed cases and 994 fatalities in the United States. Sadly, this is only a small proportion of the global total, and it is predicted that this figure will continue to grow.

Businesses, schools and healthcare organizations in particular are feeling the strain of the pandemic. According to Bloomberg, officials in New York City – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US – are desperately trying to find the space to provide additional hospital beds. Moreover, the US is lacking a considerable amount of medical supplies required to combat the virus effectively.

In spite of being unable to prevent the pandemic, it may still be possible to contain it. Everyone has a part to play in achieving containment, from individuals to medical personnel, public health authorities and businesses, provided that the necessary measures are taken. The public is being advised to take certain precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, such as regularly washing their hands, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces both in their homes and workplaces, and maintaining a healthy distance from other people.

Technology has become an integral part of the activities of medical professionals, public health organisations and private organisations in their efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak. A selection of the technological measures being implemented in order to contain the spread of the virus include:

Methods of Detection

Various local and international organizations are currently in the process of determining the most effective measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. Their approaches to testing differ from one another, with some advocating for mandatory testing for everyone, others suggesting it should only be conducted on those in the healthcare sector, and a minority arguing that testing should be discontinued altogether.

It is not yet clear which is the most effective method for testing for the coronavirus, however, it is evident that the results of any tests conducted must be dependable and provided in a timely manner. Forbes recently reported on the AI startup InterVision, who have developed an AI system that allows frontline healthcare professionals to diagnose and monitor the virus efficiently.

In comparison to earlier outbreaks of illness, such as SARS, the testing procedures that are now available provide results in a matter of hours, meaning that diseases can be identified more quickly, allowing for a faster response in terms of patient management.

Monitoring Illnesses

The progression of the COVID-19 pandemic is being studied with the aid of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Bluecoat, a software company, were the first to publish a scientific paper on this topic, accurately predicting its global spread even at the initial stages of the pandemic, when the virus was still largely contained. This was achieved by analyzing news reports, the progression of animal and plant diseases, and global airline ticketing data.

Johns Hopkins University has developed an interactive map that illustrates the progress of the pandemic, including new cases, fatalities, and recoveries, based on data collected from organizations across the world.

The below video, created by The Medical Futurist, provides further detail on the initiatives mentioned in this article, in addition to a range of other technological solutions:

Thirdly, Health Care for Non-Humans

When recruiting a nurse, it is unlikely that the presence of wheels will be a major factor in the decision-making process. However, robots, some of which are equipped with wheels, have already proven to be of great assistance in the treatment of coronavirus patients. These robots can carry out tasks that humans cannot, such as cleaning, delivering supplies, monitoring vital signs and providing a means of electronic communication between medical professionals and their patients, all without putting themselves in danger of being infected.

Medical facilities may use robots for a variety of tasks, including cleaning, temperature monitoring, and administrative work.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly referred to as ‘drones’, are increasingly being used to assist medical personnel in potentially hazardous situations. By leveraging drone technology, medical staff can be freed up to carry out more critical tasks. In addition to transporting goods, drones are now being used for temperature monitoring of individuals and monitoring of public areas to ensure compliance with safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks.

Development of New Vaccines

Without the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, the process of producing an effective vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take up to twice as long as it would without their aid. According to InformationWeek, multiple countries are now employing AI in the search for a vaccine, including Hong Kong, Israel and the United States.

In order to accelerate the search for a cure for the coronavirus, scientists are employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to gain a greater understanding of the virus. Google’s DeepMind is one example of this, having used the technology to analyze the structure of proteins believed to be related to the virus. Google has shared this data with the medical community with the aim of expediting the creation of a cure.

In the meantime, several prominent companies, particularly in China, have been taking the lead in making their computing resources available for academic use. According to CNBC, a business news outlet, Chinese tech giant Huawei, renowned for its smartphones and networking equipment, has leveraged its cloud division to develop a tool for analyzing the genetic makeup of the coronavirus.

Dissemination of Health-Related Data

The influence of technology on the spread of information regarding the coronavirus can have both positive and negative results. In a recent interview with the BBC, Dr. Lee Riley – a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California – commented that the 24/7 news culture and the emergence of social media have resulted in fear being propagated more rapidly than the virus itself. He suggested that the regular updates on the situation are making people increasingly anxious.

Nevertheless, technology can also be utilized to provide the public with pertinent data. In China, a ‘close contact detector’ application has been released, enabling individuals to discover if they have been in contact with someone who is suffering from, or is at risk of contracting, the virus. However, due to the American public’s reticence to accept government surveillance, this type of software is not suitable for use in the United States.

As the prevalence of online services continues to rise, businesses and healthcare providers are increasingly turning to chatbots to communicate with customers and disseminate information. For instance, businesses are utilizing chatbots to inform customers of changes in pricing or service, while health services are using them to provide information to people.

Future Pandemics

It has been suggested by Fast Company that further pandemics, potentially even more deadly than COVID-19, are likely to occur in the near future. While the coronavirus pandemic has been a devastating experience, it is possible that any silver lining may be found in the lessons learned in terms of how to better manage similar situations in the future. Preemptive planning, effective policymaking, medical advances, and the utilization of technological tools may all play a part in containment efforts and help to ensure that the potential effects of any pandemics can be minimized.

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