Covid-19 and IT

I am quite impressed with what a lot of IT vendors are doing to support the fight against Covid-19. There are, for example, a bunch of analytics vendors that have made capabilities freely available to both the public and professionals. For instance SAS has made available an access free public dashboard so that you can follow the progress of the pandemic, and it is also making appropriate analytic models freely available to professionals (same URL). Other companies in this space are making similar contributions.

Covid-19 IT graphPerhaps even more interesting is the CovidGraph project. This is a non-profit collaboration that provides a research and communication platform that encompasses over 40,000 publications, case statistics, genes and functions, molecular data and so forth. Again, it is freely accessible. It is supported by multiple organisations including Neo4j and structr.org amongst others. In practice the organisation is not limited to supporting the investigation of the Covid-19 virus but also to related viruses as well as medical research more generally. For example, the screenshot opposite relates to the Marburg and Ebola viruses and treatments thereto.

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More generally, we believe that graph databases have a particular suitability with regard to Covid-19 use cases. These range from precision medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center; through to the exploration, visualisation and discovery of synergies across all the different research programs that are currently underway into the causes, effects, treatments and potential vaccines that relate to the pandemic; to supporting track and trace efforts. All of these, and others, are very well suited to the use of graph databases as an underlying technology.

Finally, it is also worth commenting on the backend. On supporting hospital staff, on setting up nightingale hospitals, and so forth. InterSystems has done a lot of work here and what’s remarkable is that an industry (healthcare) that is notoriously resistant to change (at least in the UK), they have managed to transform their capabilities in such a rapid period of time. To set up the IT systems for a new hospital in just a week (as InterSystems had done) is remarkable. It just shows what can be done when if you really want to.

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Philip Howard

Research Director at Bloor Research and Managing Director, P3ST Consultants

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