16 Trinity Challenge finalists remain hopeful for future pandemic management


We may all be suffering from media weariness around Covid-19, but the fact remains that for a year and a half, drastic and widespread mismanagement of a crisis has still not ended. At the time of this writing, more than 3.5 million people are known to have died from the novel coronavirus, with more than 171 million cases worldwide. Hardly anyone has escaped illness, whether it’s losing a loved one or knowing someone whose world has been permanently shaken up in some way, especially psychologically. Yet despite the myriad of past pandemics – from SARS to MERS, Ebola and bird flu – as a global society we are still not prepared for future pandemics. We know that with the increase in the density of the world’s population and climate change we are facing more frequent pandemics. The question is not if but when and when.

Last fall I wrote about The challenge of the Trinity, a new collaborative effort to crowdsource data and science-based solutions to address the current lack of global pandemic preparedness. As I mentioned when the Challenge called for submissions, my company was involved at the level of financial support, while offering our expertise in data and analysis and our statistical and real actuarial experience on aging, mortality. and morbidity.

I would now like to add a few updates on this initiative, starting with the good news that the Challenge received 340 entries from 61 countries, and that out of those 16 entries they were shortlisted as finalists. June 25e the winning solutions will be announced, as well as the amount of the prizes allocated to the realization of these ideas. While I can’t divulge too much here, I can give you an idea of ​​the types of entries the judges looked at, as well as a comparative look at a few specific solutions that other innovators have already embraced, regardless of the challenge. .

Interestingly, many of the Trinity Challenge solutions come from experts who listen to the crucial role of government and who examine the intersection of politics and technology to provide solutions to pandemics. Their innovations use modern data and advanced analytics to manage epidemics in new ways that can be more effective, less expensive, and benefit more people and communities around the world. To me, this is one of the broadest practical applications of inclusive capitalism that anyone can ask for – a technological investment in innovation that benefits the health of a wide range of people around the world.

Here are some of the approaches taken by submissions to the challenge:

1. Participatory scientific knowledge. These solutions provide digital tools to connect farmers, community health workers and doctors who are on the front lines of potential

the spread and spread of disease from animals, allowing them to crowdsource large data sets in real time.

2. Address the health response where it is most needed. Some solutions propose to fill data and technology gaps in low- and middle-income countries, using new and

innovative digital tools, point-of-care diagnostics and blockchain technology to track vaccine delivery.

3. Predictive power of wastewater and other environmental data. These proposals deploy state-of-the-art IoT sensors to measure the presence of pathogens in wastewater, in the air or among disease-carrying insects.

4. Natural language processing. To address the communication gaps we’ve seen across Covid, some solutions are using technology to quickly create down-to-the-minute knowledge summaries by analyzing text through natural language processing to predict patterns and respond faster. Sources analyzed may include news, disease surveillance reports, physician clinical notes, and publications.

5. AI and machine learning. To sort out large data sets, some proposals seek to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning to deepen our understanding of emerging data, such as unlocking routine blood tests, thereby helping policymakers to make better decisions. informed.

I’ve seen a few specific projects outside of the Trinity Challenge that seem to be going in similar directions. For example, a team from the Broad Institute in Massachusetts was DNA fingerprint tracking strains of the Covid-19 virus to identify where the virus has spread. While it is almost impossible to search for contacts in large numbers, many we. States given up effort once the number of infections gets too high – tracing at that level becomes possible when you look at viral fingerprints rather than the interactions of individuals. Broad’s team was able to identify a person who carried a strain with a particular genetic mutation at a Biotech conference in February, which led to at least 245,000 infections of the same fingerprint in the United States and Europe.

In another example, at the start of the pandemic scientists in Chicago used pro bono analytical work from the Cambridge-based Wastewater Epidemiology Company Biobot to investigate sewage samples looking for traces of the novel coronavirus in the city’s sewers, which can appear a week before cases become symptomatic. Their research allowed the city to track outbreaks on a larger scale than individual tests and gave local governments several days more time to act.

Also noteworthy is a new book by the epidemiologist Adam kucharski, infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The rules of contagion: why things spread – and why they stop has a mathematical model of disease spread while addressing the complex sociological issues surrounding disease control, from misinformation – which can spread like a disease – to gun violence.

Another promising research project comes from Dr Paul Lantos of Duke University, who is studying the spatial epidemiology infection: Using geographic information software (GIS), his team found clusters of infection, noting that communities of color were more likely to test positive for coronavirus; it discusses the ways in which neighborhood density, household size, and socioeconomic status can predict risk.

There is no doubt that Trinity Challenge participants will benefit from some of the key lessons we have learned over the past year: don’t underestimate the threat, focus on public education initiatives with centralized and coherent messages, find the weakest link and look at the existing knowledge.

Looking at the obvious shortcomings in our handling of the current pandemic, it is clear that we have work to do for the next one. When we have the technology and the resources, there is simply no excuse for leaving others behind. Now is the time to push for new solutions, backed by funding and data, to help as many of the global community as possible. This is an opportunity to promote the types of

the interventions we will need to address long-standing threats to the health of global communities and new emerging pandemics. Which of the Trinity Challenge innovators will be chosen to actualize their winning solutions?


About Chris McCarter

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