Health & Safety Tech Providers Should Apply Their Expertise To Tackle The Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Epidemic
Experts in infectious diseases are predicting that the Wuhan Coronavirus, a new coronavirus which was first diagnosed in Wuhan in December 2019, will spread to tens of thousands of people. Medical researchers at the UK’s prestigious Imperial College Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis estimate that on average each individual with the coronavirus infected 2.6 other people. This means that 60% of people currently infected would need to be quarantined to control the outbreak. Given that 5 million people left Wuhan, the epi-centre of the coronavirus outbreak, before the city was put in lockdown, it seems unlikely that this 60% threshold will be met. What is the role for the health and safety industry?
Firstly, communicating where the coronavirus has spread to will enable authorities to impose appropriate quarantine restrictions. To aid this effort, researchers at Johns Hopkins have already created an online map and dashboard which flags cases and fatalities reported by authorities on a global basis.
Secondly, government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already have communication programmes which leverage mobile apps. These agencies could benefit from pro bono support from mobile app developers to quickly produce a mobile app that enables people to self-assess their symptoms, minimize the number of infected people attending hospital and improve the ability of medical authorities to prevent the spready of the coronavirus.
Thirdly, health and safety software vendors such as Cority, Enterprise Health, ProcessMAP and VelocityEHS have best practice templates for industrial hygiene and for medical records management. These cloud-based software offerings could be made available to hospitals whose IT systems are overwhelmed by the number of cases. The analytics available in EHS software could help medical practitioners to track hundreds of thousands of cases.
Fourthly, vendors with big data and analytics prowess such as IBM and SAS could allocate their smartest solution experts to support initiatives to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, nCoV-2019. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has announced programmes with Inovio, the University of Queensland, Australia, Moderna and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The objective is to get from gene sequence to clinical testing in 16 weeks.
Health and safety tech providers have the innovative mindset, subject matter expertise and the ethical values to play a big role in reducing infections and fatalities from the novel coronavirus epidemic.