The world is going thorugh it’s toughest days since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan. It has spread globally within weeks and people all over the world are affected. The world has seen so many epidemic outbreaks in the past times like the SARS outbreak in 2003. However, much has changed between the years with the advent of inventive digital health technologies. Let’s see how digital health technology has been used to manage and prevent the virus outbreak
AI to detect and prevent the spread of an epidemic
This is one of the many areas where artificial intelligence can be resourcefully used. AI in healthcare works as an advanced tool to diagnose various types of critical diseases. It is used to detect signs of potential disease outbreaks from the collected information. Accurate and realtime information is obtained from various sources like news reports, airline data, and reports of animal disease outbreaks.
This is how BlueDot, a Canadian based global health monitoring AI platform issued the warnings about the COVID-19 spread even before the WHO and the CDC. BlueDot accurately predicted the virus’s trail from Wuhan to Tokyo after its initial appearance. It uses big data analytics to track and anticipate the spread of dangerous infectious diseases. AI has been successfully used in assisting with researching new drugs, tackling rare diseases, and detecting breast cancer.
Interactive maps for monitoring
The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering developed an interactive coronavirus map and dashboard that lets us track and visualize the COVID-19 cases on a daily basis. They gathered information from various sources including WHO, CDC, China CDC, NHC, and DXY. The map shows new cases, confirmed deaths, and recoveries in real-time. The dashboard provides the public with an understanding of the outbreak situation from transparent data sources.
New tech for faster detection
Technology has dramatically improved the pace of disease detection and control through the years. When the SARS outbreak in 2003 was out leashed, it took the scientists days to sequence the virus, but today it is a matter of hours. They don’t have to cultivate a sufficient amount of viruses to examine them any more. Viral DNA can be detected directly from a patient’s spit or blood sample using highly developed technologies.
Veredus Laboratories, a company based in Singapore developed the VereCoV detection kit, a portable lab-on-chip application that can detect the coronavirus. These portable detection kits can change the entire picture by increasing the total number of people tested and diagnosed. It is expected to be in the market very soon.
Genome sequencing to find potential vaccines
The genome of the Coronavirus was completely sequenced by Chinese scientists in a month since the first case had been detected. Whereas sequencing the genome of the SARS virus took months and critically affected disease control. Genome sequencing is an important and inevitable step in the development of diagnostics and vaccines. Genetics can tell the experts a lot of things such as whether the virus spread from an infected animal to a person or from a lot of infected animals. Information like this can be crucial in the prevention and control of the virus outbreak.
When the medical staff is at higher risk of being infected medical robots can be our real saviours. It is already happening in the US. The medical robot has a screen through which the doctor and patient communicate and a stethoscope to take the patient’s vitals. It may not be feasible in a crowded hospital still; it can be used to monitor quarantined patients effectively.
Disease management and prevention largely rely on professionals and international collaboration. But there is no denying that the technology has made it a lot easier for them. With these advancements in the digital health technologies let’s hope to get his viral outbreak contained soon.