One of the most confounding aspects of COVID-19 is that asymptomatic people can spread the disease without knowing it. And, as any parent will tell you, children are nasty little petri dishes when it comes to spreading contagious crud. But exactly how widespread is the problem? Scientists don’t know, in part because nobody has studied COVID-19 in children.
Scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine are wrapping up the first such study in the U.S. We do know that COVID-19 makes fewer children sick than adults but what isn’t understood is how many of them could be asymptomatic carriers. To try to answer that question, volunteers went door to door in Indianapolis to test 500 participants. The volunteers waited outside while parents used nasal swabs to collect samples.
Another Indianapolis study at Eli Lilly and Company will test 3,000 participants over the age of 18. The IU study will help shed light on how much children influence the spread of the disease and could have broad implications for children’s health as well as opening schools and daycares.
UC researchers investigate COVID-19’s impact on the brain
Lead author Abdelkader Mahammedi, MD, assistant professor of radiology at UC and a UC Health neuroradiologist, said that understanding the neurological impact of the disease could possibly enable earlier interventions. But a lot remains unknown.
“This topic definitely needs more research. Currently, we have a poor understanding of the neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients, whether these are arising from critical illness or from direct central nervous system invasion of SARS-CoV-2. We hope further study on this subject will help in uncovering clues and providing better interventions for patients.”
Vandy prof brings AI analysis to COVID-19
A professor at Vanderbilt University is using artificial intelligence to better understand COVID-19. Jonathan Irish, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and scientific director of the Cancer & Immunology Core, looks at huge quantities of data to seek out rare immune cells that respond to viruses.
Irish initially developed his analysis tool to study rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. When the global pandemic hit, he quickly pivoted to using the tool to study COVID-19. The technique he’s using, called high dimensional cytometry, measures blood cells but it generates so much data that it’s impossible for humans to parse. But artificial intelligence-driven analysis can spot the needle in the haystack.
The goal is to determine which immune cells are specific to coronavirus. “Understanding and identifying the types of immune cells that help to fight off the virus could help us optimize vaccine and treatment strategies,” said Irish.
TECH vs. CORONAVIRUS
Proof of delivery app boosts efficiency and reduces contact
St. Louis-based ACERTUS, a “tech-enabled automotive logistics and services provider,” has just released a new mobile app: VINlocity Driver. The app addresses the needs of last-mile and fleet delivery drivers at a time when deliveries are becoming an essential service for stay-at-home customers.
VINlocity Driver offers electronic proof of delivery and real-time data and status updates, increasing efficiency and reducing paper and contact.
William Billiter, ACERTUS co-founder and CEO, said the company has a long history of providing transportation technology. “Amidst the novel COVID-19 pandemic and a more e-commerce driven world, there has been a fundamental shift in delivery logistics and a surge in last mile delivery. While the world is pivoting to keep up, our company has been offering last mile delivery service for more than 20 years. We have the infrastructure in place and continue to make enhancements to our technology to optimize this in-demand service.”
When an employee clocks in, CarePoint also takes their temperature using thermal technology, which Ascentis says is accurate to within 0.5°C. If a worker has a fever, a notification is sent to human resources, which can respond according to company policy.
Overland Park restaurant incubator uses tech framework
The creative minds behind the suburban Kansas City fast-casual dining experience called Strang Hall are using technology to speed up transactions, improve workflow, and potentially keep people safe amid the coronavirus epidemic.
When it opened in December, the food hall—essentially an incubator for chefs and restaurateurs—decided to go entirely cashless, creating the tech framework necessary to accomplish all those goals.
Guests typically pay with credit or debit cards, but they also can load cash onto disposable cards at the bar—the only cash drawer in the place.
“I’ve seen a couple of prominent [restaurants] in Kansas City that have tried and I think one difference is we were able to centralize the cash in one place,” said Jason Roberts, the chief information officer for Strang Hall and principal at Edison Factory, a startup builder based in the suburb of Overland Park, KS.
“[Cash] is 10 percent and falling and most have a backup method. So I think we'll see it decline even more,” Roberts continued. “Certainly the economics of not having to do all the processing and taking all the risk and insurance of dealing with massive amounts of cash makes it a pretty smart choice.”