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Study Says Google Can Help Predict COVID-19 Hotspots

New York: By examining Google web searches for keywords identified with COVID-19, specialists have said that web-based examinations have shown their incentive in anticipating the spread of the infectious virus.

As per the research, issued in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Large connections were found between keyword searches on the internet search engine Google Trends and COVID-19 pandemic in sections of the US.

These associations were seen as long as 16 days before the first reported cases in some states.

Study author Mohamad Bydon from Mayo Clinic, a health care company in the US stated, “Our study demonstrates that there is information present in Google Trends that precede outbreaks, and with predictive analysis, this information can be utilized for more prominent allocating of resources with regards to testing, personal protective equipment, medications and more.”

He included, “Looking at Google Trends data, we found that we were able to identify predictors of hotspots, using keywords, that would emerge over a six-week timeline.”

Many kinds of researches have remarked the function of web surveillance in early prediction of past outbreaks, for example, H1N1 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome.

There are more than a few advantages to utilizing web surveillance strategies versus conventional techniques, and this research says a mix of the two strategies is likely the way to effective surveillance.

The study searched for 10 keywords that were picked dependent on how regularly they were utilized and emerging patterns on the web and in Google News around then.

The keywords were: COVID-19 symptoms, Coronavirus symptoms, sore throat, shortness of breath+fatigue+cough, Covid testing center, loss of smell, antibody, face mask, and much more.

A large portion of the keywords had moderate to solid correlations days before the first COVID-19 cases were recorded in specific areas, with lessening correlations following the initial case.

Bydon stated, “Each of these keywords had varying strengths of correlation with case numbers.”

He included, “If we had looked at hundred keywords, we may have found even stronger correlations to cases. As the pandemic continues, people will seek for new and different information, so the search terms also need to evolve.”

The utilization of web search surveillance information is significant as an assistant for information science groups who are making efforts to foresee outbreaks and new hotspots in a pandemic.

The authors remarked, “Any delay in data could lead to missed opportunities for the betterment of preparedness for an outbreak in a certain location.”

 

 

source: with input from ians