Globally, digital technologies are being used to assist the public health response to COVID-19, including population monitoring, case identification, contact tracing and assessment of treatments based on mobility data and public communication. These quick reactions make use of billions of mobile phones, massive web datasets, networked gadgets, relatively low-cost computer resources and breakthroughs in machine learning and natural language processing. This Review attempts to capture the range of digital developments for the public-health response to COVID-19 throughout the world, as well as their limits and implementation challenges, such as legal, ethical and privacy constraints, as well as organisational and workforce barriers.
Technologies that have helped in assisting the spread of Covid-19
- Analytics has transformed the way disease outbreaks are tracked and managed, resulting in the saving of lives. The international community is now concentrating on the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic that was discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019-2020. AI systems issued warnings about the new coronavirus spreading beyond China more than a week before official information about the pandemic was disclosed by foreign organisations. Using natural-language processing and machine learning, a health monitoring start-up successfully forecasted the spread of Covid-19. During epidemics of this type, decisions must be taken quickly, frequently in the face of scientific ambiguity, fear, distrust and social and institutional upheaval.
- A healthcare organisation located in the United States has created a platform for healthcare personnel to provide real-time data on COVID-19 patient volumes, personal protective equipment (PPE), staffing, ventilator usage and other resource information. This data has been shared throughout its hospitals to track facility status, distribute healthcare resources and improve hospital bed capacity.
The necessity to monitor COVID-19 has fuelled the development of data dashboards that graphically depict illness burden. UpCode utilises data from the Singapore Ministry of Health to illustrate infection patterns by age, gender and region, as well as to map the recovery time of affected people.
- South Korea has put in place instruments for aggressive contact tracing, which includes security camera video, face recognition technology, credit card information and global positioning system (GPS) information from cars and mobile phones to offer real-time data and full histories of people’s movements. 18 South Koreans are receiving emergency text notifications about new COVID-19 cases in their region, and anyone who has come in touch with the infected person is being told to report to testing centres and self-isolate. 14 South Korea has one of the lowest per-capita death rates in the world due to early detection and isolation of illnesses.
- Many Chinese hospitals also utilise robots to transport food, medication and other supplies to patients, sanitise hospitals and other public spaces, monitor patients’ temperatures and answer frequent queries. AI is being used to identify Coronavirus, which can analyse hundreds of CT images in 20 seconds with a 96 per cent accuracy rate.
- Transparent and easily accessible public data has aided in the creation of dashboards to track pathogen propagation. This time, these dashboards are created not just by UN institutions such as WHO, but also by smaller groups and businesses that have contributed to their requirements. Users may simply obtain these real-time updates via their favourite apps.
- Axial3D, an artificial intelligence software business that specialises in medical 3D printing to generate anatomical models, has used its 3D capabilities to manufacture face shields, ventilator components and nasopharyngeal swabs for testing.
Following clinical studies in New York and Florida, it has dispatched hundreds of thousands of specially constructed swabs across the United States, Europe and Asia to acquire COVID-19 samples. These 15cm swabs are printed on Formlabs printers using surgical guide resin and retain samples more intact than ordinary swabs; they could also be condensed into tubes. Each printer makes 1,000 copies every day.
- CRISPR, a novel class of molecular tools, is being employed in a variety of ways, including as a preventative tactic and to boost vaccination yields. CRISPR-based platforms are also being used to produce diagnostic tests as a scalable way of addressing disease detection, as the traditional technology, RT-PCR, is too restrictive to provide the mass testing that epidemiologists believe is required.
The test combines guide RNA and a programmed sequence specific to SARS-CoV-2, the present strain of coronavirus, with viral proof triggering a “molecular shredder” that causes a release of colour to display a read-out in 20 minutes from a nasal sample.
- ResMed, a global leader in sleep and ventilation devices, has announced plans to speed the release of AirView, a patient data management software. Cellular chips in breathing equipment convey data to this cloud-based system, which is subsequently filtered and made available to physicians in an easy-to-read format, enabling “management by exception,” triaging patients and troubleshooting. Medical personnel can also make changes to settings remotely. Because clinicians are limited in time, this allows them to guarantee that the appropriate patient receives the proper care.” Remote monitoring helps other patients to stay at home and avoid going to the hospital until essential.
- Mobile phone-based tools like migration maps and contract tracing applications have enabled the collection of real-time data on people’s locations. Machine learning models are being constructed using this data to anticipate SARS-CoV-2 transmission and guide border inspections and surveillance.
- Telemedicine has shown to be a useful strategy in slowing the transmission of COVID-19. Virtual care platforms that employ video conferencing and digital monitoring have been deployed across the world to limit Coronavirus exposure. Despite the risks, the epidemic has demonstrated that there is a critical need now to use technology to make healthcare accessible to everyone. The systems can be built to aid at a preliminary phase, allowing for earlier illness diagnosis or even assisting chronic conditions in managing their conditions.
With the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic spreading, technology applications and efforts proliferate to contain the virus, treat patients effectively and relieve the strain on overworked healthcare staff, all while rushing to produce new vaccinations. Technology can be useful in solving new demands that develop as a result of a pandemic. However, its appropriate application necessitates rigorous governance focused on striking a balance among public health, social needs, economic recovery and individual rights. While public health professionals continue to modify their responses to the growing issues posed by COVID-19, technology, with all of the resources it brings to bear, is poised to meet the challenge.
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