In case you haven’t seen the news for the past few weeks, the Coronavirus outbreak has been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s better to listen to experts about the impact this may have on the economy, society, people and more.
As technology lovers, we have the opportunity to analyze how technology affects any global event and how it can help mitigate the devastating effects of a pandemic. We can compare the catastrophic effects of certain diseases, such as the Black Death, cholera or syphilis before the advent of technology, and most recent epidemics, such as Ebola and, now, coronavirus, which have been mitigated by international agencies and solidarity among people.
Coronavirus was first detected by a doctor called Ai Fen in the province of Wuhan, China. Even though the Chinese government maintains secrecy and imposes censorship on several topics, thanks to the media, the transmission of a new virus was made public. From then on, statistics systems and protocols came into play.
At this point, we must say technology has allowed information to circulate quickly without restrictions, from prevention methods to medical reports —fake news as well.
One difference between coronavirus and Ebola is that the coronavirus spread quickly throughout China, a country that is not only a tourist destination, but also a global transport hub. This is why information about flights where people may have faced considerable risk disseminated quickly.
Cure and Prevention
By December 31st, 2019, cases started to be reported, by January 7th, 2020, the disease had been identified, and by January 10th, 2020, we knew its genome. By January 13th, a method was established to detect it. Even though there is still no cure for this virus, things have changed: projects such as fold.it, that allows anyone to design proteins as if it were a jigsaw puzzle, enable users to come up with real solutions for diseases. Also, the use of AI-based tools allows governments to predict outcomes that might help them in the decision-making process to support the most vulnerable sectors of society or high risk groups.
As the disease is highly contagious, many companies and universities have decided to go remote. Thanks to the simplicity of the Internet and the fact that many companies and universities have developed policies for the use of remote work tools, the impact hasn’t been dramatic. Actually, the most common tools for online work are in high demand in the market right now, so this is the best way to test their services.
Apart from that, certain mathematical and statistical models are helping to design the best strategy to avoid the spread of the disease; that is the case of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. These models can also test the efficacy of many measures.
In these cases, people’s lives come first; only afterwards will we see how this disease impacts the economy. However, both problems can be analyzed in order to take better measures and reduce the impact of the new disease. In the future, information based on data, gathered by different services, will be a useful tool.
Finally, some advice:
- WASH YOUR HANDS, first and foremost
- If you’re feeling under the weather or if you’ve been in contact with someone who caught the disease, follow state healthcare guidelines
- WASH YOUR HANDS, again
- Have a shower every day, if possible, during the morning, and not at night (this is my opinion, but you can rest assured)
- Avoid sharing non-official information
- Avoid taking home remedies for a disease we DON’T know much about or medicines that haven’t been endorsed by doctors