‘Two Steps Ahead’: Israeli System Predicts Major Coronavirus Outbreaks in Advance


The system uses Big Data to predict where major outbreaks are likely to occur and which locations require increased medical services.

By Benjamin Brown, TPS

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot announced it has developed a method of tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) that may assist health officials and authorities in efficiently coordinating their response to the public health emergency by being “two steps ahead of the virus.”

The system, established together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Clalit Health Services, uses Big Data to predict where major outbreaks are likely to occur and which locations require an increased presence by medical services.

By asking members of the public to fill in daily questionnaires on their well-being, checking whether they develop any coronavirus symptoms and matching the data sets with information on existing corona cases, the authorities can identify hot spots and areas, in which an outbreak is unlikely.

The project was launched last week and has already seen over 60,000 Israelis fill in the questionnaires.

Foreign governments and health authorities have started adopting the system in the global fight against the pandemic, the USA, India, Germany, the UK, and hard-hit Spain and Italy, among others, now using the technology.

“These questionnaires are the only tool that can present a general picture of the virus’ outbreak across the country,” Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said, adding that the system did not replace the need to test people for Coronavirus.

“We believe that our method may provide the Ministry of Health a strategic tool for tackling the crisis,” the scientist concluded.

Last year, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot was ranked among the top 25 research institutes and universities in the world in two main categories by university ranking site U-Multirank.

The Institute was named a Global Top 25 performer in two areas: Top Cited Publications and Patents Awarded.

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Source: United with Israel