On August 12, 2021, In-Q-Tel (IQT) convened a virtual Roundtable meeting to examine the technologies used to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and other epidemics, to discuss what needed capabilities were missing from the Covid response, and how these critical needs might be addressed. Roundtable participants included experts drawn from several United States government (USG) agencies, academia, private-sector technology companies, and members of the IQT/B.Next team. The meeting was conducted on a not-for-attribution basis.
For over two decades, increasingly frequent and consequential outbreaks of infectious disease have demonstrated that we are living in an “age of epidemics”. It is urgent that nations become more adept, individually and collectively, at controlling disease outbreaks. While improving global preparedness requires changes in national, institutional, and individual behaviors, many of the capabilities required to respond to lethal, fast-moving epidemics are technologies which can be realized through collaboration among governments, universities and private companies.
Our collective struggle against Covid-19 has demonstrated that technologies, ranging from diagnostic tests and vaccines to personal protective equipment and contact tracing apps, are essential to the task of quenching pandemics. Yet, with a few exceptions, analyses of how technologies might enable critical pandemic management functions, and the strategies required to make such technologies widely available for this—or the next—pandemic, remain the exception, not the rule.
This paper provides background and details high-level takeaways from this important Roundtable discussion.
Diagnostic tests are a critical tool to contain epidemics, to support medical care, and for public health measures. Understanding when they are accurate and inaccurate is necessary for understanding which individuals have the virus, need isolation, and need their contacts traced.
Many diagnostic tests are reliable, though all are imperfect. And at a large scale, tiny errors in accuracy for single tests can aggregate into large errors if deployed without care. This is especially true when the rate of true infection in the tested population is expected to be low. For example, when testing for infection in a person who doesn’t have symptoms or a history of exposure, or when testing for a history of infection when the overall prevalence of disease for a given population is low.
This paper covers:
- The accuracy and errors in diagnostic tests
- How low disease prevalence can cause many false positives
- Diagnostic testing in normal times: testing for influenza
- Balancing errors with diagnostic needs
B.Next’s experts from healthcare, government, and industry leveraged its knowledge and expansive network to create the following high-level guide that maps sensors in commercial products to key vital signs and explores ways to capitalize on the smart products that may supplement digital health efforts in response to COVID-19.
- Connection between health sensing techniques and relevant vital signs
- Highlight of some challenges with existing commercial solutions
- Catalog of current product capabilities and emerging trends for future products
- Use cases for understanding potential ways to use sensors during contingency care
This Technology Insights Guide provides an overview of the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (not medical grade) sensor technologies that might be useful in supporting the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak response. The intent of this guide is to acquaint clinicians with the fundamental concepts related to the use of wearable sensors and to provide a possible adjunct to existing healthcare related strategies for managing the potential surge of patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Emphasis on technologies that could serve as an adjunct to conventional methods of patient monitoring are provided. This effort is not intended to convey medical guidance or provide recommendations regarding the outpatient management of presumed or confirmed COVID-19 patients. It is intended as a supplement to support the ongoing efforts of the healthcare community currently managing COVID-19.
This white paper covers precision medicine 101 and explores the aspirations to develop medical treatments to the individual character of each patient, applications and future directions, and precision medicine in China.
In response to a request from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a standing committee of experts to help inform OSTP on critical science and policy issues related to emerging infectious diseases and other public health threats. The standing committee includes members with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, public health, public health preparedness and response, biological sciences, clinical care and crisis standards of care, risk communication, and regulatory issues. This publication, co-authored by B.Next’s Dr. Dan Hanfling, articulates the guiding principles, key elements, and core messages that undergird Crisis Standards of Care decision-making at all levels.