Israeli research institution develops system to predict Coronavirus hotspots

March 23, 2020 by Benjamin Brown - TPS
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The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot has announced it has developed a method of tracking the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) that may assist health officials and authorities in efficiently coordinating their response to the public health emergency, by being “two steps ahead of the virus.”

Firefighters from Israel National Fire and Rescue Authority wearing protective suits, disinfecting the coronavirus quarantine area at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, as part of the national effort to stop coronavirus spread. Ramat Gan, Mar 15, 2020.               Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

The system, established together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Clalit Health Services, uses Big Data to predict where major outbreaks are likely to occur and which locations require an increased presence by medical services.

By asking members of the public to fill in daily questionnaires on their well being, checking whether they develop any Coronavirus symptoms and matching the data sets with information on existing Corona cases, the authorities can identify hot spots and areas, in which an outbreak is unlikely.

The project was launched last week and has already seen over 60,000 Israelis fill in the questionnaires. Foreign governments and health authorities have started adopting the system in the global fight against the pandemic, the USA, India, Germany, the UK, and hard-hit Spain and Italy, amongst others, now using the technology.

“These questionnaires are the only tool that can present a general picture of the virus’ outbreak across the country,” Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said, adding that the system did not replace the need to test people for Coronavirus.

“We believe that our method may provide the Ministry of Health a strategic tool for tackling the crisis,” the scientist concluded.

Last year, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot was ranked among the top 25 research institutes and universities in the world in two main categories by university ranking site U-Multirank.

The Institute was named a Global Top 25 performer in two areas: Top Cited Publications and Patents Awarded.

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