Viruses have threatened the human race since the dawn of time, technology can limit their spread

The Role of Tech in Stopping the Pandemic

17 May 2021
The Role of Tech in Stopping the Pandemic

The Role of Tech

Pandemics and virulent pathogens have been threatening the human race since the dawn of time. In recent history, we can count Influenza, SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and the infamous Covid-19. These outbreaks of disease have a great impact on all the aspects of our daily life. Technology cannot pretend to eradicate viruses. However, it can, to a certain degree, help prevent their spread.

Indeed, using tech to educate, warn, and empower first liners in the fight against an invisible pathogen can play a big and positive role. We keep improving our understanding of unexpected diseases. Yet it is crucial for the current pandemic and potential future ones, that we learn to leverage tech tools to our advantage. Clearly, managing Covid-19 globally has highlighted the role of technology and how innovative approaches can improve our response to the pandemic. In this article, we explore the ways advanced tech can be used in a health crisis.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI quickly became an inherent part of healthcare. AI-based data analytics and predictive modeling allow medical professionals to understand more about many diseases. Accordingly, with the use of AI, we can achieve a more accurate forecast of disease spread. This is crucial in trying to limit an epidemic. AI platforms and risk assessment tools made it easier for scientists to provide identify a pathogen as well as the level of risk it poses. For instance, it’s important to differentiate between the common cold, influenza, and Covid-19. This clarification helps medical staff implement the correct treatment course.

Another recent example is the way Chinese tech giant Baidu built AI-based solutions to screen the population for their body temperature. Implementing such high-tech in crowded public areas like hospitals and airports can aid authorities to contain an outbreak.

Telehealth Technology

The most devastating pandemic of modern times posed great challenges to the healthcare system and daily life activities. When non-essential businesses and services shut down amid strict lockdowns to counter a surge in infections, alternative technologies began to prosper. Such self-quarantine-friendly tech offers a lifeline between patients and doctors for the diagnosis of a range of medical issues. This comes as a relief to overburdened hospitals which are already prone to high transmission rates.

That’s why telehealth technology keeps those with moderate symptoms at home while severe and urgent cases can be taken in by hospitals. Remote doctor consultations allow patients to be diagnosed in real-time via an interactive communication system. There are several advantages to this innovative healthcare approach. First, it frees up hospitals and medical staff to care for critical cases, reduces the transmission of disease, and finally, doctors can consult with more patients than in-person care visits. Telemedicine can also bring the skills of infectious disease specialists to people in remote geographic locations where such advanced care is not available.

The Advent of Drones and Robots

From machines that move around hospital wards to disinfect surfaces to self-driving drones and cars making grocery deliveries to high-risk areas. The use of ultraviolet light and AI ensures that such autonomous machines can properly identify and clean germ hotspots. At a time when human contact needs to be avoided, robotics proves to be very helpful. Indeed, autonomous vehicles can transport patients to healthcare facilities. In addition to delivering medication, groceries, and supplies, drones can track the population and use thermal imaging to detect infected people. Robotics is being repurposed to serve law enforcement, transportation, and public health. Their effective introduction reduces the burden on human resources and minimizes exposure to the virus.

Business Continuity and Remote Work

If a pandemic is the most memorable reason for working remotely, it is not the only one. For many businesses, continuity has surely taken a hit with Covid-19 lockdown measures and physical distancing rules. As we have already covered in our article “Coronavirus: a Time for Digital Disruption“, effective adaptation is key. That’s why switching to working from home has ensured business continuity for some companies while controlling the spread of the virus. Technologies that allow secure access to data, cloud conferencing, and enterprise applications ensure stable operations and deliverables to continue.

The Role of Tech in Stopping the Pandemic

Big Data and Tracking

Scientists are now resorting to multispectral imaging and AI to detect the presence of viruses on surfaces. Spanish inventors dubbed their portable device, the ‘Coronavirus Detector’. The machine’s design is similar to that of a barcode reader. The Covid-19 detector analyses a surface with multispectral imaging which is processed through artificial intelligence algorithms. While this particular machine is still a prototype, the technology behind it exists and is being introduced to the public health system to cope with the next pandemic.

Yet another state-of-the-art invention, is the detection of viral infections through voice recognition. As early diagnosis is a critical part of managing a pandemic, AI offers the ability to detect infection through voice patterns. This project is also still in its infancy, but it provides an outlook for the future. How helpful would it be to test for a virus via a simple phone call?

Moreover, big data analytics can aid in the contract tracing of afflicted individuals. Officials can then build a database with the status and medical details of every recorded case. In turn, this knowledge allows epidemiologists and researchers to make great leaps in therapy and treatment assessment.

Finally, facial recognition is not novel, but when combined with the other features of advanced medical tech, it can identify masked individuals and monitor the movement of those who should be quarantined.


One of the greatest dangers to humanity is without any doubt an infectious super-virus that can kill millions. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has proven that no one is prepared to face such situations. Perhaps richer countries have an upper hand but they are far from being spared. So the latest motto of the World Health Organization “No one is safe until everyone is safe” couldn’t be more accurate. And it isn’t a matter of “if” another devastating pandemic happens, but rather “when” it does, we will have to face it as a common enemy to all of us.

Preparedness needs planning, funding, but also continuous innovation and research to apply advanced tech and solutions to the health system. It is imperative that future emergencies can be managed better. It is time to put to good use all the high-tech gadgets and incredible advancements made in AI.