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Can Data Science Combat the Coronavirus?

Data Science Covid
Published on Mar 30, 2020

The recent covid-19 outbreak has left the whole human race in a state of panic and distress. The pandemic has affected nearly 199 countries and has disturbed the livelihood of people immensely. 

While countries are making strenuous efforts to confront the pandemic and try and bring it under control, learn how data science has helped during similar situations in the past and how it can help in the present. 

Previous contributions of data science to deal with epidemics in the history 

Data and analytics have been a trusted friend to scientists and doctors, even during the time when people believed that diseases were spread through foul odours.  

The cholera epidemic could be a powerful case in point in understanding how data and analytics helped in dealing with life-threatening illnesses back in the day.  

John Snow, often referred to as the father of epidemiology, leveraged geospatial analysis – a constituent of data analytics, during the outbreak of cholera in London in 1852 to contain the disease. Back then nearly 23000 people had already died due to the fatal illness and to make matters worse, people started believing that doctors would kill patients for anatomical dissection and victims were more likely to die in the hospital than at homes. 

However, through geospatial analysis, John Snow could identify the source to the spread of the disease – the Broad Street Pump – a contaminated well that supplied water to the Soho area in London. The analysis convinced local officials to shut the pump and doing so led to a positive decrease in the spread of cholera. 

How data science can help with the current day pandemic, Covid-19 

Data science along with artificial intelligence and machine learning can help the society to deal with global pandemic effectively. Here’s how. 

The faster we can diagnose and track the highly contagious coronavirus, the more we can fight it. With data analytics, the spread of the Covid-19 can be quickly traced, and people suspected with the infection can be quarantined promptly.  

Furthermore, data analytics can help glean potential insights such as the disease’s impact worldwide, recovery trajectories, fatalities, non-contagious spread, the effect on the global economy, and many such in real-time. Through these insights, doctors can build practical strategies to contain the spread of the fatal virus while leaders can figure out measures to sustain in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Matter of fact, researchers are deploying cloud computing resources and supercomputers from tech giants like Tencent, DiDi, and Huawei to develop a cure or vaccine for the pandemic as these systems can run calculations and model situations faster than standard computer processors. 

How data science helped China to fight the pandemic

Speaking of the place of origin of the novel coronavirus, China, has taken some of the most aggressive and bold measures to contain the spread of the pandemic in which data and analytics play a key role.  

The Chinese government gleaned complete information about every citizen in the country with the help of data science, backed advanced technologies like AI and ML, to perform the highest tech epidemic control that has never been attempted in history.  

Following are few strict measures implemented by the country to combat the pandemic. 

  • Citizens had to scan their face whenever they stepped out of their apartment complexes 
  • Data from CCTV cameras all over the country was fed into a central database and analysed using machine learning to track and monitor the movement of citizens 
  • Intelligent automation algorithms were used to track infected people’s travel history to analyse close contacts with patients. These suspected people received an automated notification to self-quarantine for 14 days 
  • Automatic colour codes (red, green, and yellow) determined where people could go 
  • Free Online health consultations through WeChat  
  • Chatbots to instantly update travellers on latest travel procedures 

Though it wasn’t all sunshine and daffodils, the collective action and sacrifices of the Chinese folks have helped the country to get a hold on the fast-spreading virus successfully. 


The situation due to Covid-19 can be adverse and stressful now, but with data science, artificial intelligence, and technology, countries can fight back and try and control the pandemic positively. Hopefully, economic welfare, health, and the normal lives of people across the globe will be restored soon with the intervention of data science and analytics.  


  • Forbes
  • Alteryx