TMCnet Feature
August 04, 2020

Digital Technology Used in the Fight Against COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches its presumed peak in nearly every corner of the globe, its widespread effects are becoming increasingly evident. As of the end of April, 2020, 213 different countries and counting have reported cases of COVID-19. In the US, this translates to nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases and nearly 71,000 deaths – far more than the 58,220 caused by the Vietnam War.

In fact, the reference to one of America’s major conflicts is fitting, as the White House continues to refer to the fight against COVID-19 as a war between biomedical technology and this new pathogen. Currently, digital technology is leading the charge, including a number of notable innovations. These are a few of the ways advanced technology is helping to stop the spread of COVID-19:

1. Using the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to all the devices we use to access the Internet, including the way in which these everyday devices connect with one another to send and receive important data. According to technology company International Data Corporation (IDC (News - Alert)), by 2025, the IoT will consist of over 41.6 billion “things.” When taken together, this network of data points can provide comprehensive information about the groups of people who use them. Everyone is interacting with IoT to live their lives and run their businesses, from Realtors in San Diego working on digital platforms to meet and show houses all the way to stock brokers in Manhattan that have to interface with clients and other traders all through Zoom and Skype (News - Alert) these days.

From personal health and fitness devices to government information networks, the IoT provides a crucial way to monitor COVID-19. Globally, many governments are now using computers to share information about the coronavirus in real-time, including the number of cases, the number of deaths, and more. In addition, personal devices like mobile phones have shown promise for tracing the origins and spreads of outbreaks in urban areas.

2. Applying Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is learned intelligence shown by a machine or computer, often leading to additional insights beyond those linked to human intelligence. AI has been used in multiple applications to identify patterns and track changes in data that may be difficult to discern by human researchers. It is hoped that the use of AI may make it easier to identify ways to end COVID-19. 

Currently, citizens of some countries are contributing data in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Researchers in Russia have employed cameras armed with facial recognition software to track citizens and log data regarding their movements. Coupled with digital passes installed on user mobile phones, the data provided by this software may identify habits and movements that lead to COVID-19’s spread.

3. Implementing Blockchain Technology

Blockchain Technology (BT (News - Alert)) is a web portal that stores vast amounts of data – much like a black box on an airplane. This portal can compile and check data related to COVID-19 or any infectious disease in any country on earth. In the fight against COVID-19, the BT system has been used to compile and encrypt tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests and other medical records (with patient permission).

Once a group of patients requests COVID-19 testing, researchers can perform testing utilizing single cell sorting into a 96 well plate dispenser. This interface allows researchers to perform tests more efficiently and speeds the return of the test results. Once testing is complete, researchers can store these single cell test results in a Blockchain web portal for population analysis.

4. Performing Research on Social Media

While vital information regarding COVID-19 has been released via White House press conferences, regular televised news reports, and other traditional methods like radio and newspaper, the US government has implemented other methods of reaching citizens with important COVID-19 information. Since over 73% of the US population utilizes social media as a major method of receiving news and information, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) quickly began to recognize its importance in the fight against the disease.

In addition to a mobile app used to provide updates on seasonal illnesses, CDC also uses Twitter (News - Alert) as a major platform to inform the public about new developments regarding the pandemic. Currently, the CDC’s Twitter page includes a list of symptoms, ways to prevent the virus’ spread, and protective measures, among many other news releases and statistics about the pandemic. It is hoped that between official announcements, traditional news releases, the mobile app, and social media, the CDC can reach the majority of Americans with this critical information.

Digital Solutions for Challenging Times

While COVID-19 has drastically affected the global economy and our way of life – particularly the healthcare environment – digital technology has taken its place on the front lines of the fight against this deadly virus. Through the development of biomedical technology and the use of AI, BT, and the IoT, researchers are making significant headway towards finding a way to put an end to COVID-19.


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