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New type of contact tracing aims to tackle coronavirus and the flu

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Posted at 7:54 AM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 16:30:12-05

There's a new way to do contact tracing in the works and it could make a difference for health care providers during flu season.

Vibrent Health just got a contract with major health institutions to develop the platform.

Part of the idea is for users to enter their symptoms and find out if they're more likely to have the flu or COVID-19.

“Health care facilities do get bombarded with perhaps people thinking that they have COVID when they just had flu, so the idea is how do you help the health care organizations to reduce some of the burden,” said Praduman Jain, founder and CEO of Vibrent Health.

The technology is designed to be embedded in other apps that organizations and intuitions already use, like a university application for students.

“So, make it easy for people and don't try to change their behavior,” said Jain. “They are already using certain applications that this can become a part of.”

The app uses Wi-Fi networks to find out if you may have been close to someone with the virus.

It could help cut some contact tracing work for public health departments. Instead of calling everyone that may have come in contact with the virus, the app can report that information.

“There are only so many people, so many human beings, so many people that public health departments can hire to do that contact tracing, so technology becomes really important,” said Jain.

Development is still in its early stages. Right now, the focus is on fine-tuning the algorithms to evolve along with changing data on the coronavirus.

Broader testing is expected in the first few months of 2021.