Tool to Predict Hotspots for New Coronavirus Outbreaks Launched

To predict whether a new coronavirus outbreak is likely, the New Coronavirus Outbreak Detection Tool is now available. With accurate data, the tool’s map can show hot spots where the disease is about to appear.

What if you could look at a map and know where the next wave of neo-coronavirus outbreaks will be and when they will occur, is that possible? One actually already exists, and it works through machine learning.

Georgia Tech project investor Turgai Ayer says, “In order to deal with a local pandemic, it’s important to know how and how fast the disease is spreading in a particular county or a particular city.”

This online map available to the public is not an instant snapshot of how many cases there are in a community, but rather a summary of how fast the virus is spreading.

The darker the color on the map, the greater the likelihood of an outbreak.

With the help of data entered into the algorithm, it is possible to perform this prediction. The data includes notified cases of new crowns and death rates, geographic location, employment rates, mask regulations, number of tests per day and other information.

Ayer says, “Like any predictive model, its quality is directly proportional to the input data.”

Analyzing the data for each county would take people days or weeks to make predictions, but machine learning speeds things up and automates the process of detecting viral outbreaks.

Even with vaccination, this new coronavirus disease outbreak detection tool is still valuable, the researchers said.

If new strains of the disease emerge and new variants and the vaccine doesn’t work against them, or if at some point there is less time to be protected by the vaccine, we don’t know when it will happen yet, but at some point it will happen, and it could happen 12 or 18 months from now,” said Jagpreet Chatwal, a Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School scholar. “

Currently, the tool can only predict outbreaks in the United States because of the difficulty of collecting data in other countries.

The researchers said they would be willing to create detection tools for other countries in the future to help public health officials better plan for, or even avoid, outbreaks if enough information is available.