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COVID-19: Tech got you covered

Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Today, WHO reports 125.288 confirmed cases on their website. In the past two weeks, the number of cases outside of china rose 13-fold.

Clinicians around the world work hard to help patients – but also tech is here to help. In the light of coronavirus spreading, technology once again shows its potential. I came across many examples, anecdotes, new ideas  – funny, impressing, innovative (think: necessity is the mother of invention) – which I want to share with you.

1. Using deep learning to detect Covid-19

Chinese researchers harnessed the power of artificial intelligence (deep learning to be more accurate) to detect COVID-19. Clinical personnel realized, that CT images of COVID-19 patients often show abnormalities. Moreover, these images showed characteristics different to other viral pneumonia. That’s why lung CT could be an alternative diagnostic criteria to standard nucleic acid testing. Digital image processing through deep learning could be of great assistance in screening and diagnosing. A first study with 618 CT samples reached an overall accuracy of 87%. With high numbers of test data available, the technology will likely improve rapidly. Find original publication here.

Image retrieved from Xu et al. (2020): CT images of COVID-19 patient, patient with viral pneumonia and person without disease

Also Chinese tech giant Alibaba builds diagnosis algorithms which they share with hospitals. With more than 5000 cases as sample data, their algorithm reached an accuracy of 96% in distinguishing between CT scans of patients with COVID-19 and patients suffering from ordinary pneumonia. 

2. Dashboards

The coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world. 118 countries and territories around the world are affected so far. So it’s only natural that politicians, clinicians, journalists and the public want to stay up to date and keep an eye on the numbers. Here, dashboards come to our help. Since I couldn’t do a better ranking myself, I want to guide you to MIT Technology Review’s ranking on coronavirus dashboards.

Dashboard of the WHO, find here

But watch out: Bad guys know about our desire to be well informed. Hackers used coronavirus maps to steal data by prompting users to download a coronavirus dashboard application to stay updated. Find more here.

3. Hand-washing lyrics generator

UK-based developer Willaim Gibson understood that washing hands is one of the most effective ways to protect oneself and others. He build an amazing generator that pairs your favorite lyrics with hand washing instructions provided by National Health Service. Within 24 hours, 121.000 users created their own genius posters.

With that, I hope you stay safe, healthy and informed. I hope this post is uplifting in times of uncertainty and fear.

Scientific Source: Xu, X., Jiang, X., Ma, C., Du, P., Li, X., Lv, S., … & Li, Y. (2020). Deep Learning System to Screen Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pneumonia. arXiv preprint arXiv:2002.09334.