Emerging technologies to combat coronavirus

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On the 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus as a ‘Public health emergency of international concern.’ What started out as an irrecoverable pneumonic fever affecting a group of people in Wuhan, China, has since spread across 213 nations & territories causing mental, financial, societal disturbances in the lives of the ever-so-comfortable human race. This disease has stagnated the lives of millions of people and caused the world to come to a standstill. The covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a disturbing number of deaths amounting to a humongous total of almost 534000.

Someone has very truly stated – “Crisis plants the seeds of ingenuity.” New age technologies are our most promising weapons in this war against the coronavirus pandemic. In a poll conducted by ‘verdict’ to assess which one of the emerging technologies is the most impactful in managing the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Analysing the results shows that ‘real world evidence’ is the most impactful method followed by ‘telemedicine’ & ‘artificial intelligence.’ New technologies enable easy sharing of data regarding the disease in real-time. This in turn allows for better monitoring and identification of more efficient practices to help fight the coronavirus.

“Technology cannot prevent the onset of any pandemic; however, it can help prevent the spread; educate, warn, and empower those on the ground level to be aware of the situation, and noticeably lessen the impact.” This article further discusses certain technologies that are helping the human race fight against this microscopic yet undaunted virus. Such as :

* Blockchain technology : The blockchain tech has helped to efficiently manage the medical data and track the availability of infection prevention equipment such as disinfectants & sanitisers. Within the first two weeks of February 2020, China introduced upto 20 new blockchain applications to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous blockchain platforms are enabling federal organisations & NGOs from across the world to be increasingly transparent & traceable about the procurement & allocation of relief and medical supplies.

* Chatbots : Heard of Amazon’s “Alexa” or Apple’s “Siri”? These are chatbots – Softwares cum hardwares that speak with people through text or voice. The coronavirus has led to the building of numerous chatbots to 1.) mitigate the psychological effects of isolation, 2.) healthcare prescriptions, 3.) remote visits and check-ups. There are certain obstacles like information dissemination, monitoring symptoms and the likes that are yet to be perfected. The CDC – the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention has also come up with a chatbot of their own named “Clara”.

* 3D printing : Surprisingly the 3D printing industry has come to the forefront of the fight against the novel coronavirus. It is being widely used to manufacture scarce and vital medical kits/hospital supplies. Reportedly, many lives were saved in Italy where hospitals used this process to print valves and reanimation devices.

* Robotics & Drones : The world is headed on a path of immense digitisation. Robots and drones are a big part of this movement. They give the common man an opportunity to experience modern technology first hand. During these trying times, they ensure contact-free movement, food & item deliveries, social distancing. They allow for carrying medical supplies and testing kits and also spraying disinfectants in many places.

* Virtual reality & Cloud conferencing : The pandemic has kept the business world under threat and working from home has ensured business continuity to a certain extent along with facilitating social distancing. Cloud conferencing has proved to be the lifeblood of companies and academic institutions. Applications like ‘Zoom’ & ‘Skype’ have had their user base skyrocketed. People are also relying highly on VR. For instance, in the real estate industry through virtual tours. Various companies around the world have resorted to VR for the conduction of international expos.

* Social media & 5G : In times of the pandemic, spreading necessary information or handling the spread of misinformation are both equally important. Social media has been a key factor in facilitating communication and keeping in touch with the rest of the world. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have assured of showcasing only credible content for better awareness. 5G, on the other hand, could be the foundation enabling all the above technologies to achieve their true potential.
To conclude, this catastrophe has more so than ever, made it clear that new emerging technologies can be a potential gold mine. It can help the human race in unthinkable ways but there is a very long way to go. This is likely to become the new norm of the our lifestyles : Business conferencing, VR training, work-from-home, etc
Ben Pring made a point that “COVID-19 is quickly making the future the present” and we must move forward accepting the ‘new normal’, and not many can beg to differ.

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