The role of technology in the fight against Corona Virus

Innovators and researchers around the world are putting technology to work to curb the effects of the global health crisis. A lot has been done so far on this, from the use of software that collects and analyzes data relating to the spread of the virus to hardware devices like smart cameras, embedded with artificial intelligence and ventilators for hospitals.

The emergence of COVID-19, has sparked a health crisis that in turn, has affected the global economy drastically. The community of scientists and researchers have put their together, full weight behind finding solutions that help reduce the impact of the pandemic as it spreads globally.

Below, are some innovative global contributions from the technological sector:

1: Understanding the Virus’ Genetic Tree Using Big Data:

Big data refers to extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.

With the use of big data, scientists and researchers have been able to study the genetics of the virus and its development overtime.

An open source project called Nextrain provides data, sequencing, and visualizations showing the evolution of pathogens like corona virus, together with adequate information that can help epidemiologists understand how the virus evolves in different countries as well as possible mutations that can change its nature.

2: Finding therapy through the use of Machine Learning

With the use of adequate data, artificial intelligence could prove to be a very powerful tool used for predicting future trends of diseases as well as finding possible treatments.

A biotechnology company, AbCellera makes use of machine learning to develop therapies from antibodies on patients who have recovered from the disease. They have used Artificial Intelligence technology to actually analyze over five million immune cells as they search for those capable of producing antibodies to help patients recover.

3: The use of Telemedicine to control hospital population

Telemedicine can be seen as a form of technology that enables remote health care (telehealth). It Basically makes it possible for physicians to treat patients remotely, by making use of smartphones and computers.

Telemedicine is one of the alternatives that communities are turning to in order to control the population of patients in hospitals, thus preventing overpopulation and unmanageable influx of patients.

Telemedicine is making it faster and easier for patients to receive diagnosis: with this patients only need to open applications, describe their symptoms and wait for a reply from a doctor, through virtual consultation.

For example, in Shanghai, China, the Xuhui hospital has consulted with patients as far away as Tibet and France. In Spain, a Seville-based company, Open Salud ( Open Health ), has launched a telecommunication platform that allows doctors or clinics to determine the best mechanism for tending to their patients

4: Application to Free up Hot Lines

Emergency hot lines in some regions are not reachable due to traffic in communication. In a bid to ease off the load on the these lines, health care applications have been developed aid in remote diagnosis.

In Madrid, the regional government has launched an initiative called “Corona Madrid”, which is available both by application and on a web page. Individuals who suspect they might have the virus and conduct a physical self-assessment based on their symptoms and pending on the results will receive instructions and advice about steps to take for treatment. This initiative, jointly developed by several Spanish and in record time, aims to reduce call congestion for the regional Corona virus hotline while providing health authorities a more concise local snapshot of the pandemic.

5: Providing Relevant Information Relating To the Virus through Chat Bots

A Chat Bot is a software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent.(Wikipedia)

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the WHO chat bot with the intention of providing information about the novel Corona virus and to provide answers to questions frequently asked about the sickness, such as current infection rates and what can be done to protect oneself. The WHO’s bot takes a simple approach: it does not use natural language, rather users have to send numbers or emojis to get information on different topics. For example, if they want the latest figures about the virus, they should send ‘1’ or if they want information about travel, submit ‘5’. The WHO chat bot operates on the WhatsApp platform, which belongs to Facebook. The tech giant has also created a social media Corona Virus Information Center that appears at the top of its users’ feeds providing an official source of information, while removing pages that spread disinformation and fake news.

6: Keeping People Together With Despite Distancing

With the aid of video calls, there has been massive progress in keeping in touch with contacts beyond one’s four walls, especially for those who live alone. Some of the most popular applications are Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Duo, Webex, and Zoom, which according to the New York Times, received approximately 600,000 downloads in one day at the beginning of the pandemic. According to company Sources, Facebook Messenger’s video call functionality has seen a 70 percent increase in activity since the beginning of the pandemic.

These applications are being used both to organize remote meetings for teams and remote workers and to help loved ones stay in touch with one another. The last few weeks have borne witness to an unleashing of creativity as users have organized concerts, workshops, virtual get-togethers, birthday parties, and even weddings for which guests have received invitations with a link to a site where they can see the ceremony streamed.

In conclusion, the applications of technology to combat COVID-19 are increasing day by day as more individuals and scholars are gaining interest in finding solutions to the numerous problems that have resulted from the pandemic.