Were we really caught unaware by the COVID-19 pandemic? Is there anything we could have done better in terms of research and preparation? Questions have been asked, and answers are still being awaited. The truth is that there is always room for improvement in terms of research. Google on Wednesday announced a new research app for Android.
The Mountain View California based company has announced a new research app that will allow anyone with an Android device to take part in medical research. Called Google Health Studies, the app’s first major attention will be to look at respiratory illnesses like flu and COVID-19.
All you need is an Android phone to be a part of the research studies. You will be able to take part in surveys by answering questions and contributing relevant data. Google Health Studies app provides you with a platform to reach a large and diverse population.
As expected, privacy is always a major concern with using an app like this. Google however, says that will not be an issue. According to the company, it is “focused on three principles: keeping information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting participants in control.”
Google said when people use the Google Health Studies app, their data is protected with its advanced security. “All information is encrypted and research data is stored securely.”
For each study, participants according to Google, can clearly see what data is being contributed, and when and why it is shared. “To protect participants’ personal information we adhere to strict privacy policies. Study data will only be used for the purposes that are explicitly consented to in the research study and will not be sold, shared with advertisers, or be used to show participants ads.”
Data provided by participants will be sent to researchers using a technique called federated learning that will batch aggregated trends from various devices. What that means is that data will not be pulled from individual participants.
FDA grants emergency use authorization to COVID-19 vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has granted an Emergency Use Authorization [EUA] for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. This follows a recommendation by an independent panel of experts commissioned by the FDA to review the application submitted by Pfizer.
Shipment of the vaccines according to the Wall Street Journal, are imminent with 2.9 million doses in the initial order. Categories of people expected to benefit from this initial shipment include highly vulnerable individuals such as senior citizens in healthcare facilities, and healthcare workers.