20/05/20 |   Research, Development and Innovation

Embrapa joins international effort to monitor Covid-19

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On top of its national contributions to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Embrapa has joined another front and will coordinate the Brazilian participation in an inititative that involves 13 countries. Embrapa Instrumentation (São Carlos, SP), one of the corporation's 42 research centers, has is now part of an internacional efforts named “CoronaSurveys”. The aim of the initiative is to monitor the incidence of Covid-19 through open, anonymous surveys.

The project will collect and publish data referring to the number of people who contracted and/or manifested symptoms that are compatible with Covid-19 in different countries. The data will be useful to estimate the number of people infected by the Coronavirus in a given moment, and an evolution in the course of time.

“In addition to contributing to disseminating the survey, Embrapa Instrumentation will support the research and development project by focusing on the analysis and modelling of the data obtained”, explains Ednaldo José Ferreira, PhD in Computer Science and Computational Mathematics.

Research paves the way for other experiences

To take part in the survey, access the web page https://coronasurveys.org - it is quick, as it takes about two minutes to answer the questions. A video with considerations on the questionnaire is available on Embrapa's official Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/HTrgqvPFfuc

According to Ferreira, the lack of lab tests and undernotification has caused considerable impacts on pandemic statistics in most countries.

“What we can see in terms of contamination statistics is only the tip of the iceberg. There are some studies that aim to estimate the size of the iceberg. With its scientific component, CoronaSurveys is in line with such studies, doing it through a simplified information system based on crowd knowledge. The preliminary results obtained for Portugal and Spain were very promising in their estimates for the contamination icebergs in those countries”, Ferreira clarifies.

CoronaSurveys is internacionally conducted by a team led by Antonio Fernandes Anta, a research professor from Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA), and involves several universities and research institutes, including Washington University in the USA, Universidade Di Trento in Italy, Kaiserslautern University in Germany and the University of Edimburgh, Scotland.

His strong record in Data Science, an important part of the CoronaSurveys project, and the close relationship with a network of partners that includes institutions like the São Paulo State University (Unesp) backed inviting Ferreira to contribute to the research.

“Scientific modelling efforts to improve estimates and others that help promote the initiative are much welcome”, observed the Spanish leader of CoronaSurvey while manifesting interest in the Brazilian expert's participation in the project.

 “I am interested in scientifically contributing to the effort and promoting it as citizen action, but I also saw it as an excellent opportunity for institutional participation and contribution, once the pandemic is a cross-cutting issue and also affects agriculture”, Ferreira states.

He believes that the data modelling efforts in a project like this can bring forth fruitful experiences that will help to outline scenarios for new outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, or even sanitary incidents directly related to agriculture. 

Translation: Mariana Medeiros

Joana Silva (MTb 19554)
Embrapa Instrumentation

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