Coronavirus technologies are being developed by businesses, researchers and innovators around the world to help mitigate the impact of the current pandemic. From 3D printed ventilators to apps that collect data and track the spread of the coronavirus, technology projects are fast becoming essential tools in these uncertain times.
Applying Big Data to understand the evolution of pathogens
Understanding how the new virus, officially known SARS-CoV-2 behaves is essential for highlighting methods that can stop its spread. coronavirus technologies are being utilized at Nextstrain, an open sourced project that offers data, visualization, and sequencing enabling them to show the evolution of pathogens like coronavirus, and offer information that can aid epidemiologists in understanding how it evolves in different countries, and probable mutations that can alter its nature. By sharing the genetic sequencing of over 700 cases of the virus with the appropriate scientific community, the project has helped in corroborating that the virulence of the virus has not changed as the virus has spread.
Implementing machine learning to identify future therapies
When enough quality data is present, AI can prove to be a very powerful tool in coronavirus technologies for predicting future trends and even looking for possible treatments. AbCellera, a biotechnology company, is implementing a machine learning model to come up with therapies based on antibodies received from patients that have fully recovered from the disease. They have used AI technology and analyzed more than five million immune cells as they are trying to search for those that can produce antibodies that help patients recover. So far with the aid of AI, 500 antibodies have been identified as potential candidates for use in future therapies.
Using telemedicine to support public services
Communities around the world are using telemedicine as an alternative to avoid overcrowding hospitals with an unmanageable influx of patients. Telemedicine is being used as part of the coronavirus technologies in streamlining the diagnosis and treatment process, making it easier and faster. Patients simply need to open an application, input their symptoms, and await a doctor to get back to them through a viral consultation. The Xuhui public hospital in Shanghai China has completed successful consultation with patients all over the world.
A designated app to free up hotlines
The regional government in Madrid Spain has launched ‘Corona Madrid’ an initiative that is available on web and app. People who suspect they might be carrying the virus can go through a physical self-assessment based on their symptoms, and based on the results they will receive the appropriate advice and instruction about steps to take. This initiative is one of many coronavirus technologies aimed at reducing call congestion for the coronavirus hotline all while offering health authorities a concise snapshot of the pandemic.
3D printed ventilators
Ventilators have proven to be a necessary piece of equipment for treating the most severe cases of the coronavirus. But there is a shortage of supplies in the health system. To address this problem, several groups have set up network communication channels and platforms around the world, using technologies like Telegram where they are sharing information regarding open source designs for manufacturing ventilators with 3D printing. Anyone having a 3D printer can contribute by printing the necessary respirator component. The aim is to make them more accessible to health care services.
This project is showing fast results, in just a matter of few days, individuals from one of the groups in Spain managed to create an open source prototype for the respirator, which has already proven successful when testing on a pig in the Central University Hospital of Asturias.
A chatbot that can answer questions
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the official WHO chatbot with the purpose of providing information about the coronavirus and offering answers to questions being frequently asked such as infection rates and measures to be taken to protect oneself and others.
Top 3 digital health technologies post- pandemic
It’s certain that the current pandemic will eventually come to an end. However, some of the digital health technologies we’ve adopted along the way have proven to be indispensable, and some technologies may not be so prominent after the crisis.
Here are top 3 digital health technologies that are likely to stick around post- pandemic.
1. Disinfectant robots
Ultraviolet (UV) lights, more specifically UV-C is a well-established digital disinfecting method that is commonly used in the healthcare world. It works by altering the virus’ genetic material, that way UV lights make sure that virus doesn’t replicate. However, if exposed to human skin, it can lead to sunburns, irritations, and in the worst case, skin cancer.
All that aside, the benefits of UV-C in effectively disinfecting hospitals is seriously attracting robotics engineers and healthcare workers alike. Companies such as YouiBot are reimagining and redesigning their current robots into UV disinfectant ones. Danish company UVD Robots has shipped hundreds of their existing disinfectant robots around the world during the pandemic.
In addition to saving valuable time and decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, these robots will also prevent hospitals from getting infections.
2. AI for predicting future pandemics
In an ideal tech world, AI can predict a viral outbreak weeks, if not months in advance. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal tech world, but the good news is that we can work towards forecasting such a system with the help of current technologies.
AI company BlueDot has issued early first warnings, after scrutinizing massive data sets from news, airlines, and animal disease outbreaks. Their algorithim managed to detect a certain trend which Epidemiologists later analyzed further to confirm an outbreak.
But BlueDot is the exception and not the rule, so we must reverse the situation in order to better handle the next public health crisis. Given the massive predictive power that AI brings to the healthcare sector, the proper authorities should utilize its full potential and help in making it more commonplace in hospital settings.
3. Remote care via smartphones
It’s a sad reality that the pandemic kick-started telemedicine for mainstream adoption. Before the crisis, only 1 in 10 US patients used telemedicine services, the number has now increased up to 158% in the same country.
With lockdowns enforced globally, people are utilizing the power of their smartphones for their mental and physical wellbeing. These new digital health technologies greatly reduce the risk of cross infection all while offering patients quality care from the comfort of their own homes
These solutions greatly reduce the risk of cross-infection while offering patients quality care from the comfort of their homes. What’s more, they prove that face-to-face doctor-patient visits are unnecessary. A Global Markets Insights report from April this year, projects that the telemedicine market value will reach $175.5 billion by 2026, indicating the need for remote care in the coming years.
The glaring problem with COVID-19 vaccine deployment
As most of us already know, creating a vaccine is only half the challenge of beating the pandemic. Getting 7 billion people vaccinated is a colossal undertaking, the scale of which has never been seen in history. How will the world manage and sustain COVID-19 vaccine deployment, and ensure equitable access to everyone?
It is not an easy task, and many people in positions of responsibility may have to make some difficult decisions. In short, we will not have enough vaccines for everyone by the end of this year, even if a particular vaccine candidate is deemed adequate.
In a document by the CDC published as a rough skeletal guideline, four categories of people were prioritized with newly produced or procured vaccine doses. This is to strategically use the scarce resources available to minimize the loss of life and maximize equity.
The document classified four categories of people that would receive the vaccine at different times according to a number of factors:
– High risk healthcare workers. First responders
– High risk older adults in congregate or crowded settings
Workers in critical industries and those living in an environment of high risk such as prison.
Young adults and children, and workers of essential industries that were not included in phase 2.
In an Audio Interview “Guidelines for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment”, Eric J. Rubin, M.D., Ph.D. concurred. “We do this in medicine all the time”, he said “in that we plan to treat everybody but those who get sicker are the ones who need the treatment first, while we are scaling up or making any assessment of deploying a treatment”.
This task becomes more difficult in areas were the data on who needs what is scarce. Numerous collectives and institutions however are finding ways to guide their communities using localized data tracking, remote monitoring and some forms of contact tracing. They will be able to identify where and how many people require vaccination, how many vaccines are available for the taking, when more is coming, etc.
Having a clear picture is essential for any major endeavor to succeed, and a type of “communal immunity” can be achieved, to break the back of community transmission” as Rubin put it.
The issue of Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment isn’t when the vaccine is coming, but “who gets it first”. The answer given by the CDC seems to be a good one, from the perspective of the scientist, who have accepted the reality that vaccine equity is no easy task, and hard decisions must be made.
Professional networking amid the pandemic
As the current pandemic lingers on, we see the effects come into full force. The pandemic has changed the way we learn, work and socialize.
The pandemic has had its fair share of effects on professional networking, as most of us are currently stuck at home with limited ways to make new professional connections, top CXOs and junior-mid level professionals are joining committed and specialized platforms to connect and talk with each other online. Some of these platforms include: CoffeMug, Grab Chai, and Lunchclub.
These AI-enabled platforms call themselves “AI Superconnectors” and are the latest trend in professional networking. In essence, they are matchmakers that employ an AI algorithm to set up one-one-one meetings that are based on users’ inserted objectives, interests, and preferred time slots. AI then connects the users on email through a concept known as “warm intros” and sends them through a calendar invite that is usually accompanied by a link for a video call.
Unlike LinkedIn, these professional networking platforms are gated communities, where a user can join only through invites from existing users or by applying on the platform to get registered. Once the person enters, users cannot simply send cold emails to one another to connect. The platform is smarter as you can only meet with one specific profile at a time. This eliminates the problem of spam messages flooding your inbox.
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