October 19, 2020
When the Coronavirus pandemic began, governments around the world scrambled – with varying senses of urgency – to pull together the tools and resources needed to fight it.
How The Government Is Using Your Google Search Data To Monitor Coronavirus
While much attention has rightly been paid to vaccines, lockdowns and the merits of face masks, one powerful weapon hasn’t got much credit – your keyboard.
That’s right, Public Health England (PHE) uses Google search data – particularly searches about Covid-19 symptoms – to “understand and monitor the pandemic in England”.
And the data, which contributes to the government’s weekly surveillance reports, was able to accurately give a 20-day warning about whether cases were going up or down during the height of the pandemic.
The assumption is pretty straightforward – people with symptoms of an illness will Google what is wrong with them before they go to or even book an appointment with a health professional.
Google also has the added bonus of being relatively anonymous so people tend to be far more honest than they are when talking to other people about illnesses (and practically everything else), a phenomenon documented in the book Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.
Using a survey from March that examined the “first few hundred” cases, a list of 19 symptoms associated with confirmed Covid-19 cases was created as well as their probability of occurrence.
A separate and more general search category was created for Covid-19-related keywords, for example “Covid-19” itself and of course “coronavirus”.
Researchers then used a specialist version of the publicly available Google Trends dashboard that focuses on health data called Google Health Trends.
And the results were startling.
“When we looked at this for a number of countries, around eight, we saw on average there was a 20-day early warning that Covid cases are going to go up or down,” one of the architects of the method, data scientist Bill Lampos of University College London, told HuffPost UK.
“We expected that at the time because health systems were very slow to test, so people were tested mainly when they presented themselves in a hospital with more severe symptoms, and it takes some time to get to that stage.
“People will search for their symptoms and seek help later on. And if your symptoms were not severe, you didn’t get a test so you were not a case in the system but the search did not miss that out.”The data also raises some interesting historical insights. For instance, a report on the methodology published in July, highlights how effective non-lockdown measures were in the early days of the outbreaks.
It reads: “We also note that for Australia and the UK, search scores were already in decline after the application of physical distancing measures but before lockdowns.”
The report adds: “Our work provides evidence that online search data can be used to develop complementary public health surveillance methods to help inform the Covid-19 response in conjunction with more established approaches.”
Testing is now more widespread in the UK – albeit not as widespread as it should be at this stage in the pandemic – but the data Lampos and his team provides is still useful and contributes to PHE’s weekly infection survey report.
“The model followed the death rate very closely after the big peak in April and since then it’s followed the expected rate,” said Lampos.
Six months into the pandemic the UK combines a number of indicators into its weekly assessment including swabbing, NHS Test and Trace and hospital admissions.
But the search data method still retains one major advantage over all of these – people will generally search symptoms before they come into contact with any official testing or tracing service.
The latest search data Lampos submitted to PHE has reflected the recent upward trend in cases and has been confirmed by data from patient swabbing – but it’s still uncharted territory.
“Now there are second waves, we will have to do a second assessment of the models to see what we are doing correctly and what we’re getting wrong,” says Lampos.
“It’s a work in progress really. It’s an indicator and it has to be combined with other indicators.”Related... Manchester Lockdown: The Row Between Andy Burnham And Boris Johnson Explained Manchester 'Running Out Of Hospital Beds' As Political Row Over Tier 3 Lockdown Grinds On Coronavirus Vaccine Should Available Early Next Year, Says Sage Scientist Wales Imposes 'Circuit Breaker' Lockdown
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Unique Celebrity Baby Names: Cosmo, Kulture, Apple & More! | E! News
November 26, 2021
e_zTVo0PGhs
Kendall Jenner & Devin Booker's SLAM DUNK Romance | E! News
November 26, 2021
PEt_JziVhO0
All of Lady Gaga's Most STUNNING "House of Gucci" Press Looks | E! News
November 25, 2021
YHilBLcIi3g
Blac Chyna Weighs In on Omicron Variant & Unvaccinated People
November 27, 2021
-biXwe9YaNQ
Karol G Falls Mid-Performance in Miami | TMZ
November 27, 2021
Ickbt8vlWFc
Will Smith's Orgasms Made Him Vomit | The TMZ Podcast
November 27, 2021
P0H8u_M4AAk
Christine Quinn felt ‘annoyed’ bringing up ex drama on ‘Selling Sunset’ | Page Six Celebrity News
November 24, 2021
glyJ2w62L9k
Which 'Selling Sunset' star didn't get invited to Heather's wedding? | Page Six Celebrity News
November 24, 2021
K-7VbTnMfbI
Jason Oppenheim gushes over Chrishell Stause romance, he's "in love" | Page Six
November 23, 2021
LmlntGyFYLE
'The Beatles: Get Back' Director Peter Jackson Joins Variety's Doc Dreams
November 26, 2021
K95MIzDth_A
Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes, and Eric Newman Talk 'True Story' and Kevin's Acting Skills
November 23, 2021
PuTxxFD4tHM
Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons Talk 'House of Gucci'
November 22, 2021
u5QhOKbdsoA
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.