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Losing our brains with disruptive technologies (XXVIII): Different tech approaches used to stop Coronavirus contagion.

Have a wonderful weekend. Today I will cover the subject: Disruptive technologies and methodologies applied to attack the COVID19 sickness. Different approaches. Pros and Cons.

Before I started to read that China started with this contagion trouble last year, I thought that the World Health Organization (WHO) was the entity designed by the United Nations to become the global taskforce for handling these types of sickness. That was my perception, and my expectations have been high in relation to the WHO. I was convinced that United Nations ignited trillions of dollars of budget to the WHO, to be ready, using different and unique approaches per country to attack not just diseases as the ebola in Africa, but bugs or viruses of more powerful scope. I am sure many of you assumed that the United Nations had a global task force designed to deal, manage and control this sort of events on a global basis.

We have been for more than 3 months dealing with the Coronavirus. And all I see from here and there is that each country suffering the pandemic,  has been following different routes of success against the disease. Even Singapore and likewise China will register a secondary or third wave of infected cases if they don´t eradicate COVID19 totally. Switzerland and other European countries are also managing their own approach.  Without a treatment (vaccine or medicine), the virus might pop up again sooner than later, in the same countries that we thought have conquered the virus.

Let´s start with a light assessment. Does the WHO hold a global pandemic strategy? Do they have all the organizational capabilities to help each of the nation’s governments to deploy the emergency strategy with the limited means and particular conditions of each country? Are the WHO and each Ministry of Health teams, all together with the private sector ready with:

  1. Physical resources: hospital facilities, healing assets, hospitals, equipment, sanitary protection clothing, medical supplies, medical transportation and ambulances, production facilities for testing kits, contingency assets for each of the emergency phases, etc)
  2. Financial resources:  emergency financial insurance facilities. Other innovative solutions that can be active such as Pandemic Emergency Financing Facilities (PEF), or other financial innovation tools as crisis response financing packages, catastrophe bonds, and diverse insurance products. In addition, the private sector has an important role to play in preventing further instability through the creation
    of jobs and the provision of services during a crisis. 
  3. Human Talent resources: Crisis management experts and know-how available in each country (per area of expertise-floodings, earthquakes, pandemics). In this specific case, the whole health-care system and the private sector have to be ready with training, expertise, technical and professional qualifications to know what to do, etc.
  4. Technological resources: Each country has different levels of technology. But there are certain tools which are being proved by different countries to be effective to control the virus. Some are more expensive than others, and not every country will be ready to acquire them. Nevertheless, those technologies that may become cheap and effective have to be available in case of emergencies: for example emergency hospital facilities equipment, medical equipment, military support technologies, protection technologies for those who protect us, etc.

These four resources have to be in place altogether to attack the disease, fortunately. Disruptive technologies are useless if the rest of the resources are not procured on time. Technologies are simply one pillar of solutions. One pillar that requires the rest of the factors for success.  If the World Health Organization is leading the global task force to shut down these types of diseases; then the WHO must have the capable talent team in each country on earth, as much as each government and private sector must dedicate people in advance for a crisis emergency response plan with the competent resources and the knowhow. This means the WHO, the Government, the private sector must work conjointly as a multidisciplinary team to respond with a quick capacity of crisis management and organization at the “tip-top” level. And we have repeatedly seen that is not the case in reality.  Some countries have a lot of one-factor resources, meanwhile lack of other resources.

I will write this article, knowing that many families are suffering, probably because of the uncertainty of their jobs, or because of one family member that is dying at the moment. In advance I offer my condolences and sympathy, praying for the authorities to be serious and combat the Coronavirus as soon as possible. This is not a videogame. It is a reality. Otherwise, the economic-financial crisis will proceed shortly. Non of us wishes an ersatz self-provoked apocalypse, but my aim by writing this week is to help those in higher places to open the eyes in order to contain a virus at its roots. A.S.A.P.

Different approaches used to handle the Coronavirus contagion. I will like to mention about 6 countries that we have observed during the last 2 months.

beaverChina has shown us the beaver strategy, one methodology that has proven to this day to give results to control contagion. Beavers might be the most well-known animal architects, and with good reason. These prolific builders fell trees and gather sticks and mud to construct dams, which create ponds that offer predator protection and easy access to food during the winter. The Chinese weaver strategy has been scrutinized as expensive, severe and drastic by many. But China was able to be prepared with efficiency to build the infrastructure that was not available in Wuhan before the Coronavirus appearance. In less than 10 days, the Chinese government was able to build the hospital facilities required. In addition, this country knew that testing kits were not the route to go for them. They were going to experience testing kits shortage quicker, given the size of their population. The radical strategy of the beaver building a dam; only by isolation, seclusion, and hygienic extraordinary measures were the way to go. China has proven  to be effective, for the time being.

meerkatSingapore has exhibited another sentinel method to keep the sickness away. Their strategy has been one similar to the meerkat. Meerkats on sentry duty are the first to detect predators and escape to safety. According to the FT, “The city’s success in dealing with the outbreak is attributed to the government’s speed in imposing border controls soon after the disease first erupted in China, meticulous tracing and tracking of known carriers, aggressive testing, a clear public communication strategy and a bit of luck (given its land and population conditions). Singapore began its preparation by ramping up laboratory capacity for mass testing and developing its own test kits. They had the capacity to do it. This was seen as instrumental in containing infections and not overwhelming hospitals, a problem faced by countries such as Italy and Spain. Singapore used the lead time to prevent, by its massive shutdown to really refine their attack strategy to the virus. Professor Dale Fisher, from the National University of Singapore, stated: “By the time we had one of our cases, we were able to do tests and within a week, tests were available in all major hospitals.”  The private sector in Singapore moved quickly: for example, we know that banks divided their teams between offices (keeping the social distancing rule). Everyone who can work remotely from home was able to do it. Emergency trading floors were established, many of them in an industrial area out of the main cities. Singapore government measures have been criticized, because of privacy invasiveness against the public. In addition, the government has used the Surveillance systems, police enforcement and teams who contact and track the infected, who have all been quarantined.
An application, TraceTogether, which uses Bluetooth to record the distance between users and the duration of their encounters, has been launched. People consent to give information to the health ministry.

pavo-cristatusSouth Korea has used the techie peacock strategy for all of us. The MERS (sickness) from 2015 helped them to be prepared with anticipation. “The MERS  forced the country to reassess its approach to infectious diseases”. South Korea’s Centre for Disease Control settled then a special department to prepare for the worst of pandemic scenarios on earth. And they deployed their plans this time. This country has all the resources in place. South Korea peacock motto: “Trace, test and treat” has been seen by all of us. They had all the combo of resources in place available to design and monitor a specific test for Coronavirus. South Korea’s peacock strategy to conquer the virus, by early patient detection with accurate tests followed by isolation has proven to reduce the mortality rate and prevent the virus from spreading.

hamsterSpain and Italy have given us releases of a “hamster strategy”. Have you seen the hamsters in captivity? These little balls of fluff are pretty lazy even though they run from one place to another when hungry. Hamsters are great because they are easy to breed in captivity, easy to care for and interact well with people. But hamsters sleep a lot and can also go into hibernation, especially in the winter (for up to 3 days). It is sometimes difficult to spot them in their cages and they don’t always respond when you call them. When Spain and Italy did not consent to the seclusion order, the COVID19 expanded to their highest peak. In addition, these 2 countries have demonstrated how a health-care sanitary system can collapse because they don´t have enough resources neither the medical equipment plan for overcoming the crisis. I am extremely worried about these two countries. I pray and ask for international help for and know-how aid to them. Spain and Italy have implemented the Chinese beaver strategy recently, with strict and severe confinement and we hope it will give the desired results as of the next week.

cougarThe United States, has demonstrated an ambush predator strategy. Some of the most ambush predators in the animal kingdom are different species of cats, as the cougar, or the snakes and even the deep sea tripodish. The USA decided to act as an ambush predator, waiting for numbers, waiting for the data analysis of other nations, when inside their own country, the virus was rising. I understand the US government wanted to calm the panic. Nevertheless, the ambush predator strategy is based on the need to detect the prey (find out what was happening with the nature of the sickness), assess it as worth attacking, and strike when it is in exactly the right place. I have mixed views about the USA  strategy. The testing kit technologies used during the last two weeks are insufficient. They also have experienced medical shortage and lack of health-care professionals, at least in New York.  Still, even with all the technologies available, this society has not been able to find a technology that can help them to identify asymptomatic carriers which is a big black hole that is triggering the amount of infected. I don´t think it is wise to return back to work, as normal, unless the virus is totally controlled.

Just remember even if no more than 5% of the infected die, if the number of infected cases augments, then the number of casualties will increase.

Which is the best strategy to attack the Coronavirus? Judge by yourself.

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