The coronavirus that has created one of the biggest pandemics in history continues with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands around the world. In spite of emerging virology technologies such as wire technology, rapid DNA sequencing devices, and serological profiling of antibodies, treatments have failed, recovered patients have tested positive, and no vaccines are ready.
At the same time, hospitals and crematoria are operating under strained conditions even as workers in public health, safety, and other services are near exhaustion. Now there are increasing fears about asymptomatic carriers, coronavirus in fecal waste that can infiltrate underground water supplies, as well as viral transfer from humans to animals and vice versa.
No one was prepared for the pandemic. The medical service industry was taken by surprise. Even with the best technologies in vaccine production, invasive surveillance for centralized tracking of millions of individuals, databases, phone apps, rapid testing systems, and contingency plans, the pandemic spread. With research, however, this adverse scenario can be overturned.
Academic research is fundamental to learn more about the nature of the coronavirus. With the right protocols set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), there’s much hope that the studies and research to be done for this fight will be effective.
Meanwhile, researchers are doing what they can to find answers and solutions, using whatever technology is available to them. Techno-driven studies are conducted on patients and vaccine trials using smart technologies are continuing. The science and health industries are facing their biggest challenge ever, even as academic and medical researchers seek out ways to end the coronavirus pandemic.
In light of the general sense of fear, anxiety, panic, and frustration in this pandemic, it is not easy to see the importance of academic and medical research. Indeed, the established protocols of rigorous academic research have been designed for society to understand the nature of anything that indicates gaps in our knowledge, including the nature of diseases that seem to be stronger and deadlier than past infections.
This article summarizes the six (6) ways that academic research is helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, we define the nature of academic research.
What Is Academic Research?
Academic research is a systematic investigation carried out by academics (teachers, professors, students) who search for information in order to examine, question, and establish facts or principles. It also includes the process of collecting data on a particular subject such as, in this case, the nature of the coronavirus, pandemic behaviors, and socioeconomic disruptions.
To successfully conduct and complete this research, coronavirus patients are part of the studies. The result will add to the body of knowledge that medical and clinical studies have accumulated. For more details about academic research, visit https://artifacts.ai/what-is-academic-research.
Benefits Of Academic Research
- Adds to the Existing Body of Knowledge
According to a CDC report, coronaviruses are actually a large family of viruses, some of which cause influenza-like symptoms in humans. According to the report, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was transmitted from an unknown animal to a human.
Unfortunately, the medical industry only gets to this while transmissions and infections continue. In the meantime, thousands of lives are already lost. But what can the medical industry do? The coronavirus is different from the flu, SARS, or MERS viruses.
- Opens New Avenues Of Investigation
One of the advantages of academic, scientific, and clinical research in fighting the coronavirus pandemic is that they open avenues to other aspects of the coronavirus infection. Studies and trials are part of the methodology done in academic research. Some of the technology-driven studies that can be done are summarized here.
- Observational studies are where coronavirus patients are placed on strict monitoring and observation while undergoing routine isolation and medical care. In this type of study, the treatment isn’t altered. Researchers observe patients who regularly fill out questionnaires. From the surveys, researchers have better insight regarding the progression of the disease.
- The nested case-control study involves a group of patients that are under observation, from which a sub-group is chosen for further analysis.
- The cross-sectional study is the analysis of data from one specific point of time to the next.
- The case-controlled study is a type of study that involves coronavirus positive patients, asymptomatic carriers, recovered patients, and those who are not infected. The goal is to gain insights into the risk factors of the coronavirus infection.
- Comparative Studies For Better Understanding
One point of concern is that it is not possible to differentiate the onset of ordinary flu from the onset of coronavirus infection. This poses a danger to families and communities, particularly when people mistakenly think they have influenza. With academic, scientific, and medical researchers working, now there’ll be more information and better ways to differentiate between a patient with influenza and one with the deadly coronavirus.
For instance, we now know how smart cities can use a combination of strict implementation of ordinances and smart technology with cutting-edge connectivity and urban planning to survey large populations. We now know how artificial intelligence can use a combination of natural language processing and big data for disease tracking and fast information distribution.
At the same time, technology-driven innovations are able to address supply-chain disruptions, challenges of transportation and logistics, and autonomous robots can be used to speed up production, order processing, deliveries, and identify problem clusters. We see how future use of drones and driverless delivery vehicles can coordinate production and deliveries to hospitals, food distribution centers, as well as coordinate panic points and riot centers.
Mobile phones provide geolocation data that can help instant prediction of human behaviors. Thermal cameras provide instant information about infected individuals. Even in lockdown scenarios, smart cities can continue to provide waster removal, traffic control, manage congestions as well as electricity and water supplies.
Meanwhile, current technology-driven research continues into antigens, antibodies, as well as into effective management and control systems. The following comparisons are clarified:
- The coronavirus is deadly. The flu, in comparison, is not. Only around 1% of patients inflicted with influenza succumb to death. As of this writing, hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients have died, and the numbers continue to increase.
- Although there is an effective vaccine for the flu, this vaccine does not work against the coronavirus.
- With influenza, there hasn’t been much serious discussion about patient containment or isolation. However, with coronavirus infection, containment is non-negotiable.
- With influenza, no contact tracing has been deemed necessary. However, in coronavirus transmission and infection, contact tracing is vital for pandemic management and control. All individuals who come in contact with coronavirus patients are considered as patients of interest or patients under monitoring.
Academic and scientific research is worldwide and at unprecedented levels due to the fact that a coronavirus infection cannot be treated in the same way as the ordinary flu, or as any other known disease in human history. Innovative responses to future pandemic outbreaks have been identified.
For instance, germ war games are a rich focus for theoretical academic development to evaluate general readiness against the next epidemic. Other ways for instant messaging are being explored to keep the public informed and alert with up-to-date information even in the most remote or isolated areas. Mobile capabilities and electronic input devices are used for future scenarios. Epidemic intelligence systems and web-based surveillance tools comprise technology-driven solutions. For instance, specific research areas include the following:
- Evaluating the necessary drugs that are most likely considered as potential treatments against the viral infection.
- Learning more about the genetics, virulence, life cycle, and mutations of the virus.
- Understanding how the coronavirus attacks human cells, and how human cells fight back.
- Opens Access To Cutting-edge Research
For many patients in countries with inadequate healthcare services and facilities, costly private hospital care is a possible option, but few can afford it. Many governments and hospitals do not charge coronavirus admissions and interventions.
Cutting-edge academic research continues to find ways to solve various areas of concern. One of these has to do with identifying potential hosts of the coronavirus. There is a chance that the coronavirus might take refuge on an animal host that increases the fear of increased transmission to human beings.
The coronavirus is deadlier and more unpredictable than the precursor SARS and MERS-COV. It has the potential to leap to other animal species such as mammals, bats, dogs, pangolins, and cats. These animals can become intermediary species and transfer the virus on to other animals.
- Identifying other host species. Academic research now aims to identify species that could be new hosts before the virus spreads to an uncontrollable extent. Some animals have been identified, so researchers are now focusing on this possibility.
- Anticipating transmission vectors. While there is yet no evidence to prove that animals could, in fact, transmit the virus to human beings, academic research is not dismissing the possibility, particularly those who have close interaction, connection, and live with animals such as veterinarians, zookeepers, and pet owners.
- Production of University-based Lab Test Kits
Another challenge faced by the entire world today is the lack of test kits. There are some test kits that worked while others have provided false negatives. Academics around the world are using various technologies to produce more effective laboratory test kits. With many advanced technologies that are equipped in laboratories today, the production of better test kits has been successful.
Universities are doing all that they can to exponentially increase the number of test kits available so that the spread of the virus can be stopped and controlled. This can help health and safety personnel to quickly identify infected persons as opposed to those who have the common flu or pneumonia.
- Worldwide Vaccine Research Networks
The fast spread of the coronavirus pandemic created a pressing need to come up with an effective vaccine. Aside from curing the infected, it is very important to prevent further spread and transmission to protect the rest of the population. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
There’s that added challenge of previously treated coronavirus patients getting a positive reading. The stress that this causes to all the people that this reinfected person has connected with cannot be imagined. If an effective vaccine is found, the fear of reinfection can also take a toll on those who have believed themselves cured.
However, this is another challenge that academic researchers are taking up, now fostering a united medical international community to work together and find an effective vaccine against the coronavirus.
- A Research-Based Global Database
Another contribution of academic research is helping global organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to come up with a global database about the coronavirus. This particular database includes evidence-based information that is solidly backed by research. This global database is regularly updated and contains all resources necessary for individuals to access factual updates and progress reports on coronavirus research.
While this global database is very helpful in spreading accurate information related to the coronavirus pandemic, Another challenge now is the fast spread of false news and misleading information. At the most basic level, this technology-driven phenomenon involves the use of camera phones, mobile phone apps, and internet-based social media platforms such as WeChat, QZone, Instagram, Facebook, QQ, Twitter, Qzone, Tiktok, and Tumblr. In this case, while low-tech interventions include government policing and crime units are used, open-source technologies and AI bots are used to combat fake news.
No one knows if the coronavirus pandemic will end or if at all. Although the future seems very uncertain and many feel they are living in dangerous times, technology-driven academic research continues every day. Even as health workers feel the end of their limits in one of the most dangerous work missions that they have ever faced, academic researchers are racing against time to find answers, solutions, and cures. For these reasons and more, technology-driven research is a struggle to find answers to questions, solutions to problems, and explanations to dilemmas in whatever field or industry, and in whatever period of time in human history.