Using Technology to Manage a Pandemic

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The world is experiencing another global pandemic after nearly 100 years, but the difference is how we are handling it now. Back in 1917, there was no known cure for influenza. No vaccine could cure the disease or antibiotics that could deal with the symptoms. When the Spanish flu started to spread in 1918, countries had to use non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to deal with the pandemic.

These NPIs are now familiar to many of us who live in cities with imposed quarantines and lockdowns. Schools were closed, businesses were open at staggered schedules, public places were closed down, and people were ordered to stay at home. As it is now, people had to wear masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the disease. At that time, the only way to prevent the disease was social distancing. Over time, improved hygiene and social distancing flattened the curve in 1918. But now, we have a better understanding of how viruses spread, and we have better technology to trace the contagion.

How the World Stopped H1N1

In 2009, the flu struck again with H1N1. It was found to be a composite of genetic elements from avian flu, human flu, and two strains of swine flu. It was spread through the air and had a high mortality rate, but technology helped healthcare support systems to improve tracing methods, reduce costs, and improve the quality of the health service. In November 2009, 16 countries had administered the H1N1 vaccine.

surgeons operating on a person

The Challenge of COVID-19

But COVID-19 could be more of a challenge to all countries, as the infection rate is high. Some of the strategies to predict H1N1 infection rates could be used for COVID-19 with the use of a cloud computing system developed by programmers trained in Cisco ACI Architecture. That would rely on a secure medical database in the cloud with a decision tree to assess the symptoms of a patient. A social network analysis (SNA) could be used to present the state of the situation. Some medical experts believe that SNA graphs could calculate the rate of infection per person, and that could help countries and governments analyze the data and rate of infection.

Some medical institutions are using the cloud for remote accessing of data and using interactive online tools to provide medical services. Doing so ensures that they are following social distancing measures but could still provide essential services to their clients. Their patient’s medical history could all be accessed through the cloud for a quick review and assessment.

Managing a Pandemic with Technology

Many experts remain positive that technology can prevent the spread of the pandemic. Google’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo recently explained on TED Talks how tech giants Google and Apple a new tracing technology to give scientists and health workers more time to deal with the challenges of COVID-19. DeSalvo highlighted that essential public health service includes communication and data, and Google was determined to give the public only authoritative information from public health authorities.

For many people, it seems the only way to prevent further loss of lives is to ensure they have the right information gathered from authority sources whose analysis of the situation comes from precise data. And the only way we could do that is if we have technology on our side against COVID-19.

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