Oxford University, along with Google’s charitable arm, Google.org, has launched a new platform to help to track COVID-19 variants and other infectious diseases.
According to Erudera.com, the Global.health website has been built based on the idea of the University of Oxford researchers, which was initiated back in January 2020 and included the implementation of a COVID-19 database that assembles anonymized data for as many cases as possible.
Last year, the university also launched an online tool called “The Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker,” used to track and compare the government’s policy responses around the world in coping with the pandemic.
Following the Oxford Martin School investment at the beginning of the pandemic, Google.org has provided financial support as well as a team of 10 full-time fellows and seven part-time Google.org volunteers to advance the project. In addition, the Rockefeller Foundation has also offered funding for the project.
The Global.health platform includes data regarding pandemic for nearly 20 percent of infections reported globally. In addition, it will also include comprehensive and anonymized data for each individual case, such as their location or information about their travel.
According to the researchers, such a database paves the way to new scientific insights regarding any possible diseases as well as to more future collaborations in science stimulated by qualitative data.
An Associate of the Oxford Martin Programme on pandemic genomics, Moritz Kraemer, said that Google.health emerged from the ad-hoc work that Oxford began last year after COVID-19 began to spread all across the world.
According to him, many of the initial scientific papers focused on COVID-19 developments have used this data framework, started in an excel spreadsheet with no financial support, so such a project was needed to advance on a global level.
“I see this as one of the first stepping stones to a more open and readily integrated disease surveillance system globally,” Kraemer said.
Last year, one of Google’s initiatives was to offer its students an amount of $2,500 annually in order to cover its employees’ student loans. Back then, it was reported that the implementation of the program would begin as of 2021.
Whereas, two Oxford universities, Oxford and Oxford Brookes, by the end of December, notified that they are working on plans to ensure students a safe return in 2021.