How Data Can Help in Preventing or Predicting a Future Pandemic | Pepper Content

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How Data Can Help in Preventing or Predicting a Future Pandemic

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This article is for a Deep Tech client who wanted the creator to explain how gather data can can help in controlling pandemics.

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I’m a specialist in Deep Tech, having penned insightful pieces for the most popular brands.

IndustryDeep Tech (ML, AI, Data Science, Crypto, Cyber Security)
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Creator LevelBeginner
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Word Count909 words

The year, 2020, could only be defined by COVID-19 that forced the world to shut its doors and face a lockdown. Most of the countries witnessed a large number of cases resulting in nearly two million people dying worldwide. 

The pandemic compelled governments to stop major economic activities that led to markets running at an all-time low. Citizens of the world resorted to using technology, especially pandemic data analytics, to curb the spread of the deadly virus and keep track of its changes.

Contact-tracing Apps

One of the most popular technologies that many countries deployed and even made compulsory involved contact-tracing applications. These were used to monitor people who had tested positive for the virus and track their movement, along with informing those who had come in contact with them and providing necessary medical help. 

Apart from such apps, health officials in various countries generated large amounts of data related to COVID-19, which were used to understand how it was spreading and learn how to control it. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain technology have played a major role in this.


Data and Diseases

Data analysis related to diseases and pandemics has been in existence since 1850 when John Snow used urban design to examine how cholera was spreading. Studying current data trends can help in understanding how the spread of future diseases can be reduced and even prevented.

Today, with evolved technology and increased population, data has transformed into big data, which are, essentially, large amounts of data that are difficult to sift through and analyze manually. Instead, AI can be used to examine this data, find patterns in them and make recommendations accordingly. Data collected from medical records, health professionals, search engines, and social media can be used to learn the trends of a pandemic and provide effective solutions. If used during the initial stages, AI and ML can help keep the virus contained in a particular area.

There were reports that said that an AI company from Toronto called BlueDot, which uses ML to examine outbreaks of diseases, had alerted various countries and governments about an increase in pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, on 30 December 2019. After nine days, the World Health Organization officially declared the existence of COVID-19.

Technology in Health

These technologies are already in use to make predictions and recommendations for various products and services like OTT platforms, social media, and search engines. By using vast amounts of medical data, these can make predictions about any disease and help in avoiding a pandemic.

Using Natural Language Processing algorithms, these technologies can screen various news reports, healthcare reports, and terms used in search engines in several languages. How does this help?

  • This can help authorities understand how different countries are dealing with such diseases. 
  • It can also help them predict whether trade, travel, and socializing could worsen a disease’s effects. 
  • ML models can also be used to predict how certain diseases can affect a person by analyzing their medical records. 
  • AI can also be used to find appropriate treatments for diseases.

Predictions by such models are also highly accurate. For example, Metabiota, a company specializing in infectious disease management, had predicted that by 3 March 2020, there would be a total of 1,27,000 COVID-19 cases in the world. The actual number was just 30,000 less than that.

If there is a concern for privacy for patient data and identities, anonymized data can be fed into these technologies. Or blockchain technology can be used for data handling with automatic data collection. Here data can be stored most securely, which can be made available at any time to the authorities concerned. Blockchain can also develop a decentralized surveillance system so that there is no single authority controlling the data.


Private firms, governments, and health officials need to work together to fight deadly diseases like COVID-19. The technologies mentioned in this article have many applications in various sectors like business, entertainment, and education; they can also help in the prevention and prediction of any future disease when used appropriately.


1. What does a pandemic mean? 

A pandemic disease is basically the spread of a disease that has the entire country, continent or world gripped in its claws. It is different from an epidemic because it is more widespread and covers an entire nation as against a locality or region.

2. What is the definition of a pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”.

3. What is big data and how is it analyzed for predicting epidemics pandemics?

As technology evolves and the population increases, data has become big data. This is essentially, large volumes of data that are difficult to analyze manually or with traditional software. Artificial Intelligence is then used to examine this data, find patterns in them and make recommendations accordingly. 
Data can also be used to learn the trends of a pandemic. This can be done by collating medical records, data from health professionals, search engines, and social media. This can be further used to provide effective solutions and also sometimes, to keep the virus at bay in particular areas.

4. What is COVID-19?

According to UNICEF, COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease.

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