Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Covid-19, Demographics, Risk Analysis and Mobile Apps

Finally, it seems we have accumulated enough data from Covid-19 cases to focus in on how we can properly and strictly protect our vulnerable populations and reopen our economies.  We know that if a person has underlying health problems* they have a far higher risk so need additional protections.  We know that people over 65 years old and people living in long-term care facilities are more at risk.  In fact, the most recent update from Idaho's Covid-19 statistics show 58 of the 60 reported deaths occurring in individuals 60 or older.  If a person does not fit any of these three high risk categories, then their risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 is small.  This data seems to suggest that giving different guidance to different segments of our population may have merit.

The analysis of the data so far, at least from my armchair survey, seems to suggest a direction.  If we carefully follow the data we can open up our economy safely for a large percentage of our population.  This will require a clear understanding of demographics and the health status of each individual plus isolation for those that are Covid-19 positive.

Knowing who is at high risk and who is at low risk of a serious Covid-19 case is a critical first step.  Once the data shows us with clarity who is at low risk, then that segment of the population can begin stepping out into the new normal.  The risk is that both low and high risk segments of the population will mix, and that is a recipe for disaster.

We should all continue to avoid crowds.  That may be a requirement for everyone until there is a Covid-19 vaccine globally available.  Why? The data shows increased exposure to infected people increases the likelihood of a serious case of Covid-19.  The more you are around Covid-19, the higher your risk of a serious sickness.  

There are technology innovations that can also help us open the economy. Let’s review a few of them.  In Australia they have just launched the CovidSafe mobile app with a goal of having 40% of the population download and use it.  Here is what Reuters reported about it, “The app, which is based on Singapore’s TraceTogether software and uses Bluetooth signals to log when people have been close to one another, is meant to help medics trace people potentially exposed to infections.”

In South Korea, the Corona 100m mobile app notifies users when they are at or near a location where a person with Covid-19 has been.  Another South Korean app called the “self-quarantine safety protection” mobile app, developed by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, allows those who have been quarantined to stay in touch with caseworkers. It also uses GPS to keep track of their location to make sure they are not breaking their quarantine

China uses a mobile app called, Alipay Health Code, that provides a QR code showing colors that depict the quarantine status of the user.  The green, yellow or red colors define if the user is in quarantine, or where the user is able to travel.

There are obvious privacy and security issues that must be carefully considered, debated and monitored, but mobile technology must be a critical part of our strategy going forward.  There are aspects of these mobile applications that can be used to help us more intelligently manage our Covid-19 response and keep our economy open now and in the future.

*Source CDC: Underlying conditions
People 65 years and older
People living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.
People with chronic lung disease, or moderate to severe asthma.
People with serious heart conditions
People who are immunocompromised
People with severe obesity
People with diabetes
People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
People with liver disease
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.