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5 Ways Technology is Helping the World Fight Covid-19

  • by: Alex Fuller
  • On: 2, Nov 2020
6 min read

Since the coronavirus began its course around the world in early 2020, the pandemic has spread its effects across industries and countries. Along with the lives lost totalling almost 1million globally, hundreds of millions have suffered financially due to lost job contracts and redundancies, and sectors such as Aviation, Hospitality, Entertainment, Leisure and Retail have experienced unprecedented damage.

However, the past six months has also seen innovation like never before. Those working in Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing have pooled their knowledge and resources in a collaborative approach to the fight against the pandemic.

Here are five ways that tech is being deployed to empower medical breakthroughs, shore up businesses and industries and support those most in need.

5 Technology Innovations & Actions Driving the Fight Against Coronavirus

1. Forecasting Disease Transmission

In 2020 big data and AI have helped authorities and healthcare systems across the globe to prepare and continuously improve their responses to the pandemic in real-time. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Chinese Government used mobile phone and social media channels to track the location of people who had visited the Wuhan market where the disease first began spreading.

Renowned medical journal The Lancet explains, ‘Machine learning models were developed to forecast the regional transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and guide border checks and surveillance. As soon as China reported the outbreak, Taiwan initiated health checks for airline travellers from Wuhan, integrating data from immigration records with its centralised, real-time national health insurance database.

‘This integration allowed health-care facilities to access patients' travel histories and identify individuals for SARS-CoV-2 testing and tracking. Taiwan's proximity to Wuhan, China, made the region particularly susceptible to COVID-19, but its efficient use of big data is credited for the low number of cases and deaths.’

2. Medical Screening and Life-Saving Treatments

Analysis from Gartner reveals that a growth in ‘telehealth’ services has helped the global healthcare industry shift to safer hospital practices in response to the pandemic. Digital tools have been implemented in hospitals across continents to perform diagnosis at a safe distance and improve collaboration and communication between health departments. Efficiencies delivered with digital medical tools mean that doctors can see a greater number of patients through video appointments and analyse data recorded in patient apps to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, whilst dramatically reducing disease transmission risk inside GP surgeries and healthcare settings.

South Korean medical software business Lunit has launched its services online for free. The company’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) programmes can diagnose lung diseases via X-ray images. Hospitals across countries are able to upload up to 20 cases per day for AI diagnosis. The company says innovations like AI have been an important contributor to flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases in South Korea.

3. Data Dashboards to Understand Disease Symptoms and Recovery Patterns

By tracking the general health of those with Covid-19 and those without it, and by tracking the symptoms of the disease, technology can collect a vast amount of data that reveals patterns in how the illness is mutating as it spreads through the population, and what this may mean for our long-term health.

Universities, healthcare services and Governments across the world have collaborated to create technology products that are aiding medical advancement:

  • Researchers at the NHS and the Kings College London partnered to create a new app powered by Zoe which would track Covid-19 symptoms. Over 4million UK residents have now downloaded and regularly report on the app, which was credited as the first group of scientists to identify a loss of taste and/or smell as a major Covid-19 symptom.
  • America’s Johns Hopkins University recently developed a coronavirus dashboard and web-based platform HealthMap which provide insightful updates of COVID-19 cases and deaths around the globe.
  • The Swedish Government have developed a platform for healthcare workers to report real-time data on volumes of patients with COVID-19, personal protective equipment, staffing and ventilator usage, in order to increase communication across the public sector, track the status of facilities, allocate resources and increase hospital bed capacity.
  • Singapore’s Ministry of Health pioneered the UpCode dashboard which identifies infection trends across demographics such as age, gender and location, and estimates the recovery time for infected people.

4. Supporting Frontline Services

Brazilian logistics technology company Cargo has set up a $5million fund to support the transport of food, medicines and essential hygiene products. The initiative pays the salaries of carriers and drivers conducting essential work, meaning that individual workers in traditionally lower-paid jobs are supported – therefore reducing unemployment – whilst keeping businesses thriving and ensuring vital goods are received by families who are most in need. Cargo’s software spreads salary costs in a way that supports workers and businesses when cash flow is tight at different times of the month.

Apple has also stepped in to facilitate logistics and deliveries of essential food and medicine throughout the pandemic. Apple have spent recent months finding and distributing medical supplies and other items needed by healthcare workers, and have donated and delivered millions of units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep healthcare workers safe and reduce disease transmission. CEO Elon Musk recently announced that he would provide 1,200 ventilators to global hospitals at no charge in an effort to save the lives of those worst affected by the illness.

5. Financial Aid

The tech industry’s largest players have utilised their capital and influence to generate a new and vital source of funding. Internet providers, social media channels, streaming service providers, logistics organisations and retailers have all made mammoth contributions to the fight against Covid-19 so far, including:

  • Google – The world-renowned search engine has donated more than $900 million to support businesses, organizations and healthcare workers in ad credits and grant money
  • Cisco – The networking equipment providers have committed $224 million in cash and services to support different causes combating Covid-19
  • Facebook – The social networking gurus are donating $20 million to support relief efforts and have launched a $100 million fund to help small businesses across 30 countries around the world
  • Netflix – The streaming film and TV show providers have established a $100 million fund for cast and crew on productions halted by the pandemic
  • Amazon – The retail giant is donating $1million to be divided between four foundations supporting America’s most vulnerable people. Amazon recently announced a $25million relief fund for its driver staff to support them through the pandemic
  • Apple – The revolutionary tech creatives have pledged £15 million to the Government’s official Covid-19 response package
  • Microsoft – Bill Gates’ legendary software company have donated $7million to the COVID-19 Response Fund.

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