Waste water testing systems, multiple forecasting models help to prepare for upcoming waves, says Shiv Kumar, co-founder of Catalyst group which is the founding partner of COVIDActionCollab.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world early last year, it was technology that came to the rescue by easing millions into remote working scenarios, providing entertainment and aiding in tackling the virus itself.

Technology is also crucial in preventing a third wave, according to Shiv Kumar, co-founder of the Catalyst group which is the founding partner of COVIDActionCollab, a nationwide collaborative of 315 organizations working together to aid Covid relief and recovery among vulnerable communities by leveraging modern technology.

“Technology has acted both as a weapon and a shield in the battle against the virus. Multiple vaccines were developed using state-of-the-art technology. Waste water testing systems act as an early warning indicator which helps us arrest the infection in its early stages. Multiple forecasting models help us prepare for upcoming waves (of the pandemic),” Kumar said.

One such initiative is the Precision Pandemic Public Health Surveillance system, a waste water testing platform developed by the collaborative in partnership with the Karnataka government. The first-of-its-kind platform in Asia detects the presence of the virus in waste water, serving as an early warning indicator of an outbreak in a new area, particularly in densely populated urban areas. This helps to identify an affected community in the early stages even with asymptomatic carriers.

Siddhant Sawhney, technology lead of the collaborative, said advances in technology also enable diagnosis and treatment in low-resource environments remotely or through point-of-care devices.

“The collaborative has also launched a telecare helpline that helps identify Covid-positive individuals, acting as a triaging tool that connects patients to appropriate health facilitators based on their symptoms. If the symptoms are caught early, the need of going to the hospital decreases significantly,” Sawhney said.

The group’s in-house app DICEFlow helps in gauging vaccine sentiment and screening of non-communicable diseases.

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