The human race is not new to epidemics and pandemics. Cholera, H1N1, Ebola, smallpox, and more have shown their teeth in the past, at times brutally taking millions of lives. But with each such outbreak, we have learned new ways to fight back and found better ways to control such unexpected diseases. A fair share of credit goes to the advancement in the field of technology. While technology cannot prevent the onset of these pandemics, it can surely help prevent its spread, find a cure to such diseases, and educate and empower people to face the circumstances head-on. With the help of converging technologies like smartphones, cloud, robotics, AI, etc, experts are coming up with numerous instruments to find innovative ways to detect such diseases and shield patients and healthcare workers against any potential health risks.
While the world is desperate to find an effective vaccine and slow down the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, technology has emerged as a key enabler in making that process faster. Let’s look at some of such technologies that are playing a vital role in tackling coronavirus.
When a pandemic strikes, the very first question that arises is if there is any drug or vaccine to prevent it from spreading. In the case of COVID-19, while scientists have already mapped how our body’s immune system can fight against the virus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is also making progress in finding vaccines. Researchers are using AI that can effectively suggest components of a vaccine by understanding viral protein structures. Research teams at the Allen Institute for AI, Google DeepMind, and others have created AI tools, shared data sets, and research results about it. In January, Google DeepMind introduced AlphaFold, a cutting-edge system that predicts the 3D structure of a protein by analysing its genetic sequence.
During a pandemic, proper communication with the masses is critical to ensure they are correctly informed and educated about the situation. Several groups are using AI, Machine Learning (ML), and other cutting-edge technologies to update people with the visibility of the outbreak. Two Silicon Valley companies, Apple Inc and Google, have recently announced a collaboration to create a contact tracing technology that aims at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus. These tech giants aren’t alone though. India rolled out a contact-tracing app called Aarogya Setu that enables people to know if they have been in contact with any person with COVID-19, by scanning and collecting a database of known cases of infection. The app then sends the data to the government to provide immediate medical assistance to the patient.
While Isaac Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics might prevent robots from taking over the world someday, their presence today is helping minimise close interactions between patients and healthcare workers, thereby reducing the spread of the virus. Several hospitals and healthcare centres around the world are using robots and drones for a range of tasks including the delivery of medicine, food, and other supplies to patients, checking their temperature, monitoring their health progress, answering commonly asked questions, carrying test kits and medicines to quarantine locations as well as disinfecting hospitals and public areas. In India, a team of engineers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu has built a robot called ‘Novus Care’ to help health workers in their fight against the novel coronavirus. The robot was manufactured by The High-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd (THRSL) and was successfully tested in the COVID-19 ward at ITBP hospital in New Delhi.
The wireless infrared thermometer and the pulse oximeter have been the most important types of medical equipment that are being used in vast numbers on an everyday basis during this pandemic. These technologies help in measuring the body temperature from a distance, checking the blood oxygen level in one’s body, and identifying people who need further health care assistance. In hospitals, AI is used to help speed up the diagnosis process by reading thousands of CT scan reports within just a few seconds. These path-breaking innovations in technology are helping identify and isolate individuals on their journey to a speedy recovery.
Fighting this global pandemic would require a herculean effort without the presence of technology. The above-mentioned technologies have become the key weapon in monitoring and efficiently controlling the outbreak of the disease.
Do you know any such technology that is helping fight the COVID -19? Do let us know in the comments below.
Books are Tanaya Goswami’s first love and cheesecakes come a close second. Talking about movies, music, calligraphy, politics, and Elon Musk will get you listed under the friends’ section of her diary. Ever since moving on from her job as an English lecturer, she spends her time at BYJU’S crafting stories filled with emotion and sprinkled with sarcasm. Outside of work, she’s either learning something new (French, most recently!) or is curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. She firmly believes that discovering what you don’t know is the key to knowledge and is constantly working towards improving herself. Drop in a line at [email protected] if you liked her stories, have something nice to say, or if you have compelling ideas to share!
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