Even though there does not seem to be an end of the COVID pandemic in the foreseeable future, thanks to data surrounding the disease, we are able to provide some further education relating to the pandemic in order to keep it at bay while scientists continue to work on a vaccine, or other preventative measures.
Here are some tools that entities around the world are using to collect COVID data which can be used to keep the disease at bay and, ultimately, rid the world of it!
Contact tracing has been a hot term in both the political venues of the United States, and the media as a whole. What exactly does it mean, though? In short, a person who tests positive for the disease is interviewed by a team to determine where they were most likely to have gotten the virus, and whom they have come in contact with. After the interview, big data joins the team, and health informatics professionals can determine what kinds of areas are more susceptible to being beacons of the spread. Information like this has led to determinations that outdoor seating is safer than indoor.
In addition to determining who a given COVID-positive patient has come in contact with, other patient information is being collected and ultimately used to create pools of pandemic data to help determine things based on demographics, such as the fact that we now know children are much less likely to show symptoms compared to older individuals.
Back to School
This is an actual tool created by Insights for Education, in which school districts input data related to sanitary measures, mask use (such as the N95 mask), class size, regional virus data, and, using data analytics, can calculate the rates which children contract the disease when different measure are being taken. The data includes things like if the schools are gradually opening, or limiting in-class days, as well as comparisons regarding mask use and social distance practices that can be viewed by the schools, and shared on social media and emails to those parents and children interested in the data.
The International Monetary Fund created a data collection service based around the economic impacts that areas of the globe are having. It compares and contrasts different things like how gradually open economies are succeeding compared to those who may not have really closed, but had more outbreaks. 196 economies are part of the IMF’s tracker, and information can be accessed by the public.
There are plenty of upsides and downsides to both kids staying home for school, and kids going to school. Many of the proponents of sending kids back have to do with financial issues, as some kids get better food, cheaper, when they are in the classroom, and many parents now have to find childcare when money is already shorter for most families, due to the virus. The World Food Program created a data tool to track what areas have the most children not receiving school lunches, so they can help direct funds and meals to those areas.
Limitless is a strong word, but when it comes to data-driven tools for pandemic response, it’s pretty fair. Already, electronic health records, evaluation models, public health grids, spread maps, contact tracing, and more have had data collection tools created to help hospitals fight the spread of the coronavirus. Looking forward, when either (or both) preventative medications become available, or some form of cure, more tools can be developed regarding demographics surrounding those individuals treated with them. Big data can, and is helping save lives all around the world in a time when the world needs all the help it can get.