As the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) evolves, technological applications and initiatives are multiplying in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease, treat patients and take the pressure off overworked healthcare workers, while also developing new, effective vaccines.
At a time when everyone needs better information, including epidemic disease modellers, state authorities, international organisations and people in quarantine or maintaining social distancing, digital information and surveillance technologies have been unleashed in an unprecedented manner to collect data and reliable evidence to support public health decision-making. Artificial intelligence, robots and drones are being deployed to help track the disease and enforce restrictive measures; while scientists are frantically applying gene editing, synthetic biology and nanotechnologies in a bid to prepare and test future vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
Blockchain applications can track contagion, manage insurance payments, and uphold medical supply chains. Furthermore, 3D printing and open-source technologies seem capable of sustaining the effort of governments and hospitals around the world to meet the increasing need for medical hardware (e.g. facemasks, ventilators and breathing filters) and optimise the supply of the necessary medical equipment.
At the same time, telehealth technologies offer a cost-effective means to slow the spread of the virus and to maintain hospital capacity by operating as a possible filter, keeping those with moderate symptoms at home and routing more severe cases to hospitals.
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