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Harnessing digital and diagnostic technologies for COVID-19

Home > Harnessing Digital and Diagnostic Technologies Covid 19

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Led by Prof Rachel McKendry, University College London
Other Investigators: Prof Ingemar Cox (UCL), Prof Molly Stevens (Imperial College London), Dr Ed Manley (Leeds), and Dr Eleni Nastouli (UCLH)
Project partners: University College London Hospital, Imperial College London, University of Leeds, in partnership with Public Health England and the World Health Organization 

This project was awarded £500,000 in March 2020 by the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) to urgently assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team aim to address key challenges associated with tracking and testing the COVID-19 pandemic; namely early identification of infection in the community through online data sources and development of point-of-care diagnostic tests linked to national health systems.

i-sense researchers are focusing on two main areas in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Developing online syndromic epidemiological intelligence systems to track COVID-19 using online search data 
    i-sense researchers from University College London, led by Dr Vasileios Lampos, in collaboration with Public Health England, Microsoft Research, and Harvard Medical School are looking at ways of tracking COVID-19 using online search data using machine learning models to better understand the true extent of community spread. This research could help to better understand community spread by identifying potential positive cases from individuals that may never present to their doctor. Outcomes of this project are given directly to Public Health England on a weekly basis.

    More information can be found here.
  2. Building smartphone-connected COVID-19 diagnostic tests to widen access to testing of front-line health-workers, and patients
    New point-of-care diagnostic tests are rapidly being adapted to detect the presence of COVID-19 in a much shorter timeframe and without the need for specialist lab equipment. Smartphone connected diagnostics will aim to test at the point-of-care and connect results to health databases in real-time, with geo-linked information to help identify ‘hotspots'. This will significantly reduce time to result, reducing potential onward transmission.