Team Led by Rambam Doctor Creates Map Identifying High-Risk Areas for COVID-19 Outbreaks.
|A platform created by a team jointly led by Rambam’s Dr. Oren Caspi and others enables authorities to identify geographic locations at high risk for COVID-19 outbreaks.
A joint research team from Rambam Health Care Campus, the B. Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and the faculty of electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps have created a special platform that performs real-time analysis of COVID-19 propagation characteristics. The result is an accurate, up-to-date map reflecting the level of risk for COVID-19 outbreaks based on geographic location, which enables analysts to identify new areas of outbreak and contributes to the understanding of how the virus is spreading geographically.
The platform creates heatmaps, which visualize the cases using a series of circles of different sizes and colors. The colors indicate the rate of disease spread (with red indicating the fastest rate, while blue indicates that slowest rate); the size of the circles indicates the number of COVID-19 diagnoses in the locality.
The project initiative is led by Dr. Oren Caspi, head of the Advanced Heart Failure Program in Rambam’s Department of Cardiology and head of the Technion’s Laboratory for Cardiovascular Precision Medicine, together with his brother, Gil Caspi, from the faculty of electrical engineering, and Dr. Avi Shina.
The team initially developed the platform and metrics to track the effects of climate changes on the COVID-19 propagation rate in real-time, allowing Israeli authorities to identify communities where the risk of an outbreak was high and take appropriate action, while at the same time loosen restrictions in communities where the risk of an outbreak was low, enabling a possible revival of the economy in those areas.
The platform can also be used to represent COVID-19 bed occupancy for intensive care units (ICU) and non-intensive care units, and may help with the allocation of healthcare services such as ICU staff, beds, and ventilators, to ensure optimal resources in compromised areas. “Adopting COVID-19 heatmaps as a strategic tool alongside other tools may be essential in limiting the potentially harsh social, health and economic consequences of this pandemic,” noted Drs. Caspi and Shina. Using the platform they created, the team has successfully identified major outbreaks in Israel, and their map has been featured on Israeli news websites to show the trajectory of local cases. They recently released an American version of the map for the US, which will be able to identify outbreaks at the county level.
“Rambam has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic, and this cooperative effort will enable us to play a greater role on a global level, allowing us to provide a tool that can help authorities to better track the virus in real-time, and make decisions that reflect the data,” explains Dr. Caspi.
To visit the team’s Israeli website, click here.
To see the team’s interactive Israel map, click here.