If the pandemic has taught us it would be uncertainty. Nobody had a clue what was awaiting us when the new decade dawned on us. So much so that we are reeling from it. But a university in Boston has decided to take matters into their own hands. This is to brace everyone for another pandemic impact. The North Eastern University revealed that they have developed a unique system that can help determine pandemics before they hit.
Established in 1898, the university is a significant part of Boston’s cultural heritage. This is why this step could be extremely crucial for colleges all over the country. The program titled “Epistorm” combines machine learning and A. I to determine the next outbreak a week or two before its transmission increases. So why is it considered to be crucial? That is because a study conducted by a group of researchers at Yale in 2021, uncovered how “fatality cases are driven by resources.” The study pointed out that the deaths during the pandemic occurred mostly in North Eastern regions of the U.S. And this was due to lack of beds and other resources. While Emergency medicine succeeded in giving initial care, the long term lacked in multiple ways. So if the NU can gain what it promises, things might look up for us in the future.
The Centre for Advanced Epidemic Analysis and Predictive Modern Technology at the North Eastern University has been granted funding of over 17.5 million to help them well in advance over 5 years. As part of the association, the center will spearhead 10 research institutions, healthcare providers, and private companies. All this under the guidance of Dr. Alessandro Vespignani, director of North Eastern’s Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished University professor. Together the stakeholders aim to achieve a more holistic approach towards the spread of the diseases.
Marking another win for AI, the researchers will make use of data procured from the water sewages in the nearby areas. This can be used to analyze the data using machine learning. The system will be equipped with all the relevant authorities once a threat has been identified. When asked about the idea behind the unique program, Vespignani quipped, “(With Covid-19) everybody was got off guard. We don’t want to be in a situation like that in the future.” Moreover, he continued, “We want to be in a place where there is a national weather service for Epidemics and epidemic threats.”
Being one of the national innovation centers that came into existence after 2020, North Eastern will also receive dedicated assistance from The Centre for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. To ensure the accuracy of the data collected from its inception. Boston University, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of San Diego will all be nurtured similarly according to the director of CDC. The response centers are also supported by Los Almaos Laboratory, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre, Mianehealth, Norther Lights Health, and Concentric Gingko Bioworks to expedite lab work and medicinal resources.
The establishment of predictive institutions when it comes to fatal pandemics can be beneficial in multiple ways. It will not only instill preparedness but also eliminate unnecessary speculation. People and authorities often tend to go in blind when it comes to diseases that have no antidote as such. The situation escalates and it is often too late to take action. Therefore the fast-response team wants to gather all the information necessary to prepare itself in the best possible way. While the gap of 2-3 weeks might not seem like a great deal, when it comes to pandemics, it can make a huge difference.
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