Has Technology Failed or Helped Our Attempts to Tackle the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Published March 15th, 2020 - 11:22 GMT
Has Technology Failed Our Attempts to Tackle the Coronavirus Outbreak?
World citizens of the tech-savvy 21st century have been surprised at the human vulnerability facing the latest epidemic. (Shutterstock)

Standing in shock and panic, many people have expressed their disappointment over the world's inability to stop or cure the novel coronavirus despite the numerous technological advancements we've witnessed over the recent decades.

With countless smart gadgets in hand, ultra-fast internet connections, and incredible applications connecting people thousands of miles away from each other, citizens of today's tech-savvy world have been pretty surprised by the human vulnerability exposed by the latest pandemic.

A quick online search can easily show how many people have been waiting for a technologically-modified drug that can cure COVID-19 and end its deadly effect.

Scientific Applications

Yet, despite scientists' inability to find the ultimate treatment for the Wuhan-originated epidemic so far, technology has been playing a vital role behind the curtain, identifying the disease, containing it, diagnosing patients, and providing quarantined people with the needed means to carry on with daily lives as normally possible.

The very first alert of the danger posed by the novel coronavirus on human lives was by an AI tool developed by the Canadian startup BlueDot, which was able to identify a pattern of pneumonia disorders originating in the Wuhan wet market in China last December. Algorithms have also shown a parallel with the SARS disease that had spread in China back in 2002-2003.

Several other digital tools have been put into use to help minimize human interaction in hospitals where patients could be contagious. In China, for instance, robots guide patients to doctors' appointments and ask them questions to help identify symptoms ahead of meeting human doctors.

Moreover, drones have been used to disinfect cars, buildings and public spaces, without exposing human workers to danger of contracting the virus.

In airports, face recognition cameras have been installed to detect travelers with fever, one of the very common symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Italy's devastating toll has left its impact on medical supplies shortage, especially valves that are used for intensive care devices. Once hospitals in Brescia reported the acute need for them, Milan's FabLab specialized in 3D printing raised to the occasion and collaborated with a number of other local companies to redesign and print the missing piece.

Hopes continue that technological advancements will soon result in vaccines or drugs that can put an end to this pandemic. 

Daily Life

It's no secret that the coronavirus has impacted the smallest details of humans' daily lives, with millions of people around the world advised to stay at their homes, leaving their daily errands in limbo.

Yet again, technology came to the rescue helping many people digitalize their daily work tasks so as not to lose their jobs. Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants have made their online conferencing services available to the public for free to help team members coordinate their work. Other platforms have also come quite handy in helping people communicate effectively, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Chanty.

Many countries have also been experimenting with online education services, in order to help students continue the school year with no delay.

Forced to spend weeks at home can feel overwhelming for many people, but luckily, the internet has so many features that can keep people busy, such as online streaming services, digital books, gaming applications, social media networks, and many other services.

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