Technology as a Weapon in the Battle Against Covid-19
Four months have passed since the entire world is fighting against the highly contagious disease COVID19. The government of all the countries have been taking several measures to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, by imposing travel restrictions, mapping individuals who are infected and encouraging people to stay at home till a cure of the corona virus disease is discovered. What would have happened if there were no advancements in technology like easy access to internet, smart phones, tech-gadgets, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Not only technology has made our lives easy but today while we are engaged in a war with a deadly virus, technology has proved itself to be the ‘Brahmastra’ or ‘The Ultimate Weapon’. Here are some ways in which technology is playing the most important part in this once in a century pandemic battle.
Employing Artificial Intelligence
With significant development in this field, the data scientists across the world are almost completely dependent on Artificial Intelligence. This advance technology is aiding in gathering data precisely and accurately across the world so that rapid action can be taken in the shortest time-frame. This is how AI is proving to be useful:
• To detect Potential new cases in a given area: There are various AI platforms which are able to scan the infected individuals in a given area, so that immediate action can be taken to isolate the area to contain the disease. BlueDot became one such platform (the first one) to detect COVID cases in Wuhan, China. Without the data collected by BlueDot, the pandemic would have taken a more ugly face. The early detection gave the researchers and scientists some time to explore coronavirus treatment.
• To predict the Type of Population at Maximum Risk: By processing vast amounts of data, AI platforms have been able to detect the potential targets of the disease. Analytics have conclude that children, adults above the age 55 and those with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, cardiac diseases and high blood pressure are at maximum risk of contracting the disease. This information has helped in cautioning the targeted population.
• To manage Electronic Health Records: In order to make treatment decisions and researching for cure and medications, AI platforms are managing data comprising medical history, laboratory tests of COVID positive patients. The data includes, CT scans, MRI scans, X-Rays, which proves to be of utmost importance for health professionals across the globe.
• To scan approved Drug Databases: With the help of AI applications Drug Databases are being scanned to search for medications that might be helpful in the Coronavirus treatment.
• To provide an Open Source Data Platform: The AI tools are helping in tracking the spread of the disease by managing and using the immense data inflow from all the countries across the world.
The applications of Artificial Intelligence are many. To use them wisely, is what is required as of now, while respecting data privacy of every individual.
Robots and Drones as Workforce
With the help of AI, the functioning of Robots and Drones have been made more advanced, such that they would help in conducting tasks without the physical presence of humans. This would help in minimizing person to person transmission, thereby containing the corona virus outbreak. The jobs which are carried out by these technologies are as follows:
• Robots have been deployed in hospitals to disinfect patient’s rooms in countries like China and Singapore. This prevents the medical staff to limit their coming in contact with the COVID positive patients.
• In some countries, including India, the security forces are making use of robots and drones in monitoring the public so that lockdown and travel restriction laws are not breached.
• Robots are deployed as medical assistants, performing tasks such as conducting pre-medical tests of the patients. This application also prevents human to human transmission in hospitals.
• Robots are used for delivering medications and food so that the supply chain is maintained. These basic commodities are needed in day to day life and lockdown has definitely affected the access to these items.
• More research is being conducted in employing Robots and Drones to carry on the process of surveying, mapping and delivery to combat the COVID outbreak.
Open Source Technologies
COVID is an international concern now, which requires an open platform for sharing essential data to better understand the disease which in turn would help in treatment and vaccine related discoveries in a limited timeframe. There are several repositories and information technology platforms that enable easy and cost efficient data sharing. Countries across the globe are collaborating to share the crucial data which includes research data, scientific publications and blueprints for production of medical equipments like ventilators and face shields, to come up with a solution to the pandemic together. The data collection is being done by international organizations like the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. With the help of Open Source Technology a combined effort of the planet is initiated to combat the Coronavirus outbreak.
Making Use of 3D Printing
3D Printing is a manufacturing technique used in making three dimensional solid objects from a computer aided design model. The machine using this technology usually creates the object by adding layer over layer of the making material with the help of a digital file.
Some countries have resorted to three dimensional printing to cope up with the increased demand in necessary medical equipments like face masks clasps, breathing filters, ventilator valves and test kits. Deploying this technology would reduce the risk of human to human transmission of the disease and would also ensure that the medical demand of these vital equipments is met.
Real Time Locating Systems
This technology is finding its use by big tech giants such as Google and Apple. Last month, the two revealed that they were working to build a contact tracing system for notifying people if they come in contact with a COVID positive individual. This system would have helped in tracing how outbreaks move and identify hotspots. But the system is still under review keeping in mind the data privacy laws and privacy protection of individuals.
Our researchers around the globe are keeping their hopes high and looking up to several other technologies to discover a permanent solution of the pandemic. These are:
• Gene Editing Technologies: It is a technology which enables the scientists to make changes in the genetic material in an organism’s DNA. Several countries are resorting to this technique by studying the genetic code of the corona virus. The study would help in the development of medications and vaccines.
• Nanotechnology: It is a science in which nano-sized particles or devices are developed and used for a variety of applications in the medical field. Research is being conducted using this technology and a vaccine has also been created using the same which is still under trial. As per research, nano-particles can act as anti –viral drug delivery systems. This means that the particle would interact and bind with the virus preventing it to attach with the host cell. A lot of work has to be done to get the desired results in a short time span.
• Synthetic Biology: It is a scientific approach which involves disciplines like biology, engineering, computer science, chemistry and genetics. Research is being conducted using this technology by creating a synthetic virus for the development of a successful vaccine.
The effects of the pandemic have forced speedy action on behalf of the governments, research institutions and health departments. With the help of the latest technology at hand, the treatment and cure of the Corona Virus Disease can be expected. It is the time, when all the nations with their latest advancements in technology should come together and fight against this deadly disease, saving the future of mankind.