Covid-19: how Google searches predict the evolution of the epidemic

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Researchers have found that Covid-19 cases are on the rise within weeks of a spike in searches for certain terms on Google.

Tell me what are you googling, I will tell you how the Covid-19 epidemic will unfold. According to a recent study, academics have noticed a correlation between certain terms entered in the famous search engine and the increase in the number of cases. Therefore, looking for intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea can predict an explosion of cases three to four weeks later. Therefore, increasing these terms for digestive disorders and abdominal pain could serve as an early warning for scientists.

For example, in New York City, one of the fifteen regions examined in the study, searches for "diarrhea" nearly doubled three weeks before Covid-19 cases skyrocketed. In fact, diarrhea could be an early warning sign of the new coronavirus. According to the researchers, the ability to detect children with coronavirus increased from 76% to 97% when stomach and bowel pain were included in the official symptoms.

Monitor internet

In France, the Ministry of Health does not include digestive disorders in the signs of Covid-19: "The main symptoms are fever or the sensation of fever and cough. The sudden loss of smell, without nasal obstruction and the total disappearance of taste are also symptoms that have been observed in patients. In people who develop more severe forms, there are breathing difficulties, which can lead to hospitalization in intensive care and death. "

Specifically, the study, conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, used Google Trends to monitor digital queries for "diarrhea," "loss of appetite," and "loss of smell" performed in 15 states between January 20 and January 20. April. This analysis found a correlation between searches for these terms and an increase in coronavirus cases almost a month later. The five states with the strongest correlation were New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

Anticipate the epidemic

"Gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be a harbinger of Covid-19 infection. Google Trends can be a valuable tool for predicting the geographic hot spots of Covid-19 and other epidemic diseases that have gastrointestinal manifestations," reports Dr. Kyle Staller, gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. At this time GI signs are not on the UK symptom list. Many specialists want to change things.

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