2020 will be forever marked by the global Covid-19 pandemic. While science struggles to find the “quick fix” for the moment, another discipline is trying to play a vital role in the detection and diagnosis of the virus, data science. Indeed, data can help better understand and analyze Covid-19 and thus establish action plans to combat it.
Like all the research organizations concerned, such as the CNRS or even the INSERM and the university hospitals which are very strongly involved, the life sciences were the first to mobilize in order to quantify, model, simulate. In addition, nowadays, all of these scientific disciplines interweave a whole set of data. This is why data science is here to play a major role in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic. A real revolution because technology can help
to diagnose much faster. Indeed, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was sequenced in China six weeks after the detection of the first case of Covid-19.
For comparison, bubonic plague, one of the three types of plague caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis and also called the black plague, was not discovered until 1894 by Alexander Yersin. While we fought almost blindly against this virus in Europe in the 14th century (cf, caused the death of a third to half of its population).
Free movement and sharing of data
In addition, the entire scientific publishing community has made all of this collected Covid-19 data freely available. Johns Hopkins University (located in Baltimore, United States) was the first to aggregate all raw data on the pandemic, including making a dashboard available to everyone: coronavirus.jhu.edu. In Europe, the European Bioinformatics Institute has set up the SARS-CoV-2 Data Hubs, which collects and processes the flow of data about the virus. What better way to understand them and thus share them between the various scientific actors involved. Even France got started with the OpenCOVID19-fr initiative.
All mobilized against Covid-19!
While everyone is mobilized, the analysis of the data is there to better understand this pandemic which is affecting all four corners of the world. It also helps to act against the circulation of false information. A number of states have wanted to play the digital technologies card, like France and its “StopCovid” initiated on the occasion of deconfinement policies. This application collects the necessary mobile data from users to warn of possible transmission from an infected person.
Indeed, the tracing of the data and makes it possible to see if one has been in contact with someone tested positive for Covid-19. Even asymptomatic and thus to propose a course of action to be taken (a confinement in most cases) are concerned. To operate StopCovid detects contact between two smartphones within a radius of 1 meter for more than 15 minutes. But he still struggles to find his audience. Its direct impact on the privacy of data subjects raises many questions.
Artificial intelligence, an alternative against the virus
While temperature is a major factor in the virus, artificial intelligence also has its playing card. In China, people are even thinking of detecting feverish patients from a distance, in the crowd. It uses infrared cameras and artificial intelligence to detect faces. Even Kuang-Chi Technology companies have decided to integrate this type of technology into augmented reality headsets and glasses so that police officers can monitor the forehead temperatures of passers-by. Even connected objects are useful as a connected sensor the size of a postage stamp, which sticks to the skin at the base of the neck, capable of monitoring body temperature 24/7. Created by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago. This makes it possible to detect the heart rate as well as cough and breathing difficulties. And analyze them live by an algorithm.
An online questionnaire
Even an online questionnaire, maladiecoronavirus.fr, was launched on March 18 to inform, analyze and guide its users. A tool created by the Digital Alliance against Covid-19 and made available to all citizens, free of charge, while respecting their privacy. Everyone has mobilized to create useful tools and even with local initiatives such as the Infolocale site offers an interactive map of business offers and traders compatible with confinement, around home.
Here is a whole set of initiatives necessary for the various political decision-makers to establish their action plans. This shows that data and data science can also play a key role in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic.
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Three ideas to remember
How has data science revolutionized the analysis of the Covid-19 virus?
Data science has been able to diagnose Covic-19 much faster. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was sequenced in China just six weeks after the first case of Covid-19 was detected. The data makes it possible to better understand, analyze the virus, as well as act on it, and thus save precious time in the fight against Covid-19.
How are data mobilized against Covid-19?
The entire scientific community has released data related to Covid-19. It also helps to act against the circulation of virus-related spoofs. A number of states have even implemented technological tools such as France and its StopCovid application (now replaced by TousAntiCovid). A whole set of tools available to users to better understand the virus.
How does artificial intelligence play its role against the virus?
Artificial intelligence also has its card to play. China has used this technology to detect fever patients from a distance. Connected headsets and augmented reality glasses to control forehead temperature, connected sensor capable of monitoring body temperature 24/7. These are all tools to better control the virus.