A recent ZDNet piece by Greg Nichols proclaims, “There’s been a call to arms for data scientists.”
As the international community struggles to stem the spread of coronavirus, there is a growing need for experienced data scientists to mine available research data on the virus and help answer key questions. This is the goal behind The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, designed to “mobilize researchers to apply recent advances in natural language processing to generate new insights in support of the fight against this infectious disease.”
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported late last year, there has been a significant amount of confusion surrounding the virus, its infection rates, symptoms, and other vital information that can help both better diagnose and treat the disease. With more than 52,000 articles about COVID-19, the research database contains a wealth of information, but additional intelligence—both human and machine—is required in order for the tech community to discover connections and associations between the data.
The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset is far from the only tech initiative designed to help us better understand the coronavirus. Another example is EVQLV, a startup launched by two graduates of the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. The technology creates algorithms that can computationally generate, screen, and optimize hundreds of millions of therapeutic antibodies.
As HealthITAnalytics’ Jessica Kent put it, “While conducting antibody discovery in a lab can typically take years, these algorithms can identify antibodies that can fight against the virus in just a week.” As a result of these capabilities, EVQLV believes it’s possible to have a treatment available for patients before the end of 2020.
Big tech is also getting in on the data-backed approach to fighting COVID-19. For example, Verizon has created a coronavirus academic research search engine that works on top of the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset. As new research is published and uploaded to the dataset, the research engine, known as CORD-19 Search, can help researchers find and create new insights. The technology combines text and structured search with a data mining language to more easily and more efficiently sort through the wealth of scientific data.
While these and other data-driven projects show promise, they are all very early-stage. As ZDNet’s Nichols put it, “Out of this pandemic, it’s possible there will emerge a new framework out of which to deploy data scientists as first-responders to meet urgent and developing problems like pandemics. Until then, the ad hoc response is the best we have.”
For the latest data related to Coronavirus, see TIBCO’s COVID-19 Visual Analysis Hub, which features visual data science analyses to help manage the effects of the virus today and in the future.