Lecture with Eran Segal on Predict Corona

Date: Thursday, June 18, 2020
Prof. Eran Segal

Prof. Eran Segal

Members of the Israel Friends Association and the Weizmann Alumni Organization met Prof. Eran Segal in an online Zoom lecture. Prof. Segal has a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics and the Department of Molecular Cell Biology. Together with Prof. Benny Geiger, Prof. Segal launched Predict Corona, with the Hebrew University’s Prof. Yuval Dor.

In this project, the three experts are tracking geographic clusters in which the coronavirus is prevalent and will likely spread, via data on symptoms as reported through online portal by Israeli citizens—both healthy and sick individuals. The mapping may enable health authorities to concentrate anti-contagion efforts on areas in which an outbreak and spread of the virus is predicted, while allowing them to ease measures in areas where an outbreak is not expected. The initiative relies on this daily questionnaire, which can be accessed in five languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, and Amharic).

That project effectively served as a successful pilot for an international effort called the Coronavirus Census Collective (CCC), launched by the Weizmann scientists with MIT colleagues. CCC is an open-access platform whereby voluntarily reported data can be used to predict the location of future outbreaks, CCC derives its data sources from self-reported health status through surveys, diagnostic lab tests results, and other static and geospatial data. The overarching goal: to anticipate hotspots of disease outbreak, identify factors underlying the infection rate, inform policy decisions, and evaluate the effectiveness of public health measures.

The lecture ended with a cautious but yet optimistic vibe to hopefully return to a “new normal” routine soon.