Viewing COVID-19 through the lens of data science

22-May-2020 3:20 PM EDT, by MIT Press

Newswise — Multidisciplinary study of the COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging impact has become an urgent endeavor worldwide. To further and deepen global understanding of the crisis, the Harvard Data Science Review (an open access platform of the Harvard Data Science Initiative) is publishing a special issue examining the novel coronavirus and its impact through the lens of data science.

The issue covers a wide range of topics addressing the societal, epidemiological, political, and educational issues that have rapidly emerged from the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Articles include:

  • A Conversation About Covid-19 With Biostatisticians and Epidemiologists
    David Banks (Duke University), Susan Ellenberg (University of Pennsylvania), Thomas Fleming (University of Washington), M. Elizabeth Halloran (University of Washington), Andrew Lawson (Medical University of South Carolina), and Lance Waller (Emory University)

    Five leading biostatisticians and epidemiologists debate the probable scope and duration of the pandemic, the kinds of medical responses that we need, and some of the impacts they foresee on the U.S. and on the world. They also discuss the pandemic's likely effect on higher education.
  • The Coronavirus Exponential: A Preliminary Investigation into the Public's Understanding
    Alexander Podkul (Optimus), Scott Tranter (Optimus), Liberty Vittert (Washington University, St. Louis), Alex Alduncin (Optimus)

    The reasons why we are currently "socially distancing" are based on an understanding of exponential growth and the idea of "flattening the curve." The authors present and discuss a pair of survey experiments that explore the public's statistical literacy by examining its ability to calculate and understand exponential growth. These findings may be used to help better ground effective communication strategies aimed at the general public.

  • Bayesian Adaptive Clinical Trials for Anti-Infective Therapeutics During Epidemic Outbreaks
    Shomesh Chaudhuri (QLS Advisors), Andrew W. Lo (MIT), Danying Xiao (MIT), and Qingyang Xu (MIT)

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, how should regulatory agencies adapt their normally lengthy clinical trial and approval process to address the urgency of finding treatments and saving lives? The authors propose a Bayesian adaptive patient-centered framework to optimize the clinical trial development path for anti-infective therapies and vaccines. Their research provides a rational, systematic, transparent, repeatable, and practical framework for regulators, policymakers, and clinical researchers to evaluate the efficacy of anti-infective therapeutics during the course of any epidemic outbreak when the cost of false negatives far outweighs the cost of false positives.

  • Estimating Probabilities of Success of Vaccine and Other Anti-Infective Therapeutic Development Programs
    Andrew W. Lo (MIT), Kien Wei Siah (MIT), Chi Heem Wong (MIT)

    The economic value of a drug or medical device development program is typically computed by assessing the program's cumulative revenues if successful, and companies rely on this data to make business decisions about which programs to pursue and how to fund them.

    In this article, the authors provide estimates of clinical trial outcomes for vaccines and other anti-infective therapeutics using 43,414 unique triplets of clinical trial, drug, and disease between January 1, 2000, and January 7, 2020, yielding 2,544 vaccine programs and 6,829 non-vaccine programs targeting infectious diseases--the largest dataset of its kind. As governments around the world begin to formulate a more systematic strategy for dealing with pandemics beyond COVID-19, these estimates can be used by policymakers to identify areas most likely to be undeserved by private-sector engagement and in need of public-sector support.

  • Tackling Covid-19 through Responsible AI Innovation: Five Steps in the Right Direction
    David Leslie (The Alan Turing Institute)

    Innovations in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) have a central role to play in supporting global efforts to combat COVID-19 and address a broad range of biomedical, epidemiological, and socio-economic challenges. However, this wide-reaching scientific capacity also raises ethical challenges.

    The authors present a practice-based path to responsible AI design and discovery centered on open, accountable, equitable, and democratically governed processes and products. When taken from the start, these steps will not only enhance the capacity of innovators to tackle Covid-19 responsibly, they will help to set the data science and AI community down a path that is both better prepared to cope with future pandemics and better equipped to support a more humane, rational, and just society of tomorrow.

The special issue will be published on a rolling/continuous basis with new articles appearing weekly through the beginning of July 2020.

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Released: 29-May-2020 6:50 AM EDT
Those with IDD more likely to die from COVID-19, study shows
Syracuse University

A new study published recently in ScienceDirect by researchers from Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University shows that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without IDD.

Newswise: Invention by a Finnish start-up speeds up coronavirus testing
Released: 29-May-2020 6:25 AM EDT
Invention by a Finnish start-up speeds up coronavirus testing
Aalto University

An Aalto University spinoff company has come up with a way to use existing lab microscopes in a completely new and much more effective way with their innovation of nanocoated glass. While this is very relevant to covid19 research, it holds great promise for many other viruses and diseases

Newswise: Tourism: what’s our new normal?
Released: 29-May-2020 6:20 AM EDT
Tourism: what’s our new normal?
University of South Australia

After months of lockdown, it’s no surprise that people are itching to get out and about. But with ongoing debates about how and when to open Australia’s state and territory borders, it’s hard to know what to expect.

Newswise: Calibrated approach to AI and deep learning models could more reliably diagnose and treat disease
Released: 29-May-2020 6:05 AM EDT
Calibrated approach to AI and deep learning models could more reliably diagnose and treat disease
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

In a recent preprint (available through Cornell University’s open access website arXiv), a team led by a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory computer scientist proposes a novel deep learning approach aimed at improving the reliability of classifier models designed for predicting disease types from diagnostic images, with an additional goal of enabling interpretability by a medical expert without sacrificing accuracy. The approach uses a concept called confidence calibration, which systematically adjusts the model’s predictions to match the human expert’s expectations in the real world.

Newswise: Researchers Develop Experimental Rapid COVID-19 Test Using Innovative Nanoparticle Technique
Released: 28-May-2020 6:35 PM EDT
Researchers Develop Experimental Rapid COVID-19 Test Using Innovative Nanoparticle Technique
University of Maryland Medical Center

Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) developed an experimental diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can visually detect the presence of the virus in 10 minutes. It uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present. The test does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques, such as those commonly used to amplify DNA, for analysis. The authors published their work last week in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal ACS Nano.

Released: 28-May-2020 6:05 PM EDT
Tackling airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors
University of Surrey

Preventing airborne transmission of Covid-19 should be the next front of the battle against the virus, argue experts from the University of Surrey.

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Embargo will expire: 1-Jun-2020 11:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 28-May-2020 5:40 PM EDT

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Released: 28-May-2020 5:10 PM EDT
Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association

Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Newswise: fimmu-11-01208-g001.jpg
Released: 28-May-2020 4:45 PM EDT
Genetics May Explain High COVID-19 Mortality in Italy, Inform Global Pandemic Response
Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO)

On March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic.

Released: 28-May-2020 3:55 PM EDT
Finding working capital is key to small businesses efforts as reopening accelerates
RAND Corporation

As small businesses reopen after a lengthy pandemic shutdown, one key challenge will be finding working capital to replenish inventories and pay employees until revenue returns to normal, according to a new RAND Corporation perspective based on interviews with a select group of small business owners.


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