CDC to Launch ‘Surveillance and Data Collection’ System to Map COVID-19 Spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to launch a new surveillance tool to track the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, according to a new report.

Funds for the CDC’s planned tracking system have been earmarked in the bipartisan $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus bill, which passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday, Business Insider reported.

The relief package allocates at least $500 million to revamp the CDC’s public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure, the development of which the agency must report on within 30 days, the report said.

The technicals of what the report cited was a “surveillance and data collection system” have not been made public, but the report indicated that the federal government has expressed interest in aggregating data from smartphones and other tech platforms.

Other countries have launched technologies both to help identify and monitor their symptoms and to track the spread of the CCP virus. The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Federal officials fixed an issue with test kits that delayed wider testing for the new coronavirus, officials said on Feb. 27, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The UK recently launched an app called COVID Symptom Tracker, with the aim of slowing the outbreak.

Project lead professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London, told The Mirror: “The more of the public that also use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country.”

According to MIT Technology Review, COVID Symptom Tracker will be available in the U.S. starting March 26.

“By using this app you’re contributing to advance vital research on COVID-19. The app will be used to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads,” a note says on the app website, which adds that personal data will not be used for marketing.

“We take data security very seriously and will handle your data with huge respect. Your data is protected by the European Union’s ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR). It will only be used for health research and will not be used for commercial purposes,” the site states.

Transmission electron micrograph of particles of the CCP Virus, or SARS-CoV-2 virus, isolated from a patient. (NIAID)

Meanwhile, Singapore has introduced several government-run surveillance tools, including a smartphone app that tracks users’ location and proximity to other people, and notifying those who come in contact with someone who has tested positive or is at high risk for carrying the virus, according to a separate Business Insider report.

Any app launched in the United States would need to comply with privacy laws, such as the which prevent the sharing of personal health information between hospitals and other third parties, including the government.

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley, N.J., on Feb. 28, 2020. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Separately, the CDC said it is working on its own version of a blood test to find out who may have immunity to COVID-19. This is a potential game-changer in the battle to contain infections and get the economy back on track.

Several academic laboratories and medical companies are rushing to produce these blood tests, which can quickly identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who already have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all. This is different from the current, sometimes hard-to-come-by diagnostic tests that draw on a nasal swab to confirm active infection.

“Ultimately, this (antibody test) might help us figure out who can get the country back to normal,” Florian Krammer, a professor in vaccinology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, told Reuters. “People who are immune could be the first people to go back to normal life and start everything up again.”

The CDC has not yet given a timetable for the antibody test.

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Author: Tom Ozimek

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