Apple must expand its COVID tracing technology into large scale testing

In the difficult business climate brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple is proud to go beyond “competent business as usual” to help. But, the trillion-dollar company and its peers should now take the initiative to collect test data that governments around the world cannot manage. Lives and their profits depend on it.

We never needed such a bad donut

We previously detailed a variety of ways in which Apple has voluntarily helped the global coronavirus pandemic, ranging from the use of its supply chain expertise to source masks for frontline healthcare workers. using its design capabilities to make millions of face masks and other necessary equipment. Apple has also contributed to causes such as food aid to those hardest hit economically by the pandemic, developed distance learning resources for teachers and parents, and worked to develop a secure technical base for track the virus sp in a way that does not allow governments and malicious third parties to track user behavior for other purposes.

In his last quarterly earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook specifically addressed this issue.

“In this difficult environment, our users are reliant on Apple products to stay connected, informed, creative and productive,” said Cook. “We feel motivated and inspired not only to continue to meet these needs in an innovative way, but to continue to give back to support the global response, from the tens of millions of face masks and custom made face masks that we have sent healthcare professionals around the world. world, to the millions we donated to organizations like Global Citizen and America’s Food Fund. “

Companies: we urgently need you

Yet there is something else that Apple and its wealthy corporate partners can do in a unique way: helping to compile test data on a large number of people. These data are desperately needed because they will inform us of the real extent of the pandemic and the behavior of the virus.

Despite many efforts by scientists around the world to determine how quickly the virus spreads, what effect it has on infected people, why some are apparently able to carry the virus asymptomatically, and whether infected people have acquired immunity to reinfection and for how long we still do not have a clear picture needed to make effective public policy decisions, ranging from how quickly we can loosen restrictions to the possibility of sending children back to school. school safely, or if people who have developed antibodies can return to work safely.

How Apple's Exposure Notification System Works

Globally, there are concerns that various governments are hiding the true extent of the virus for political reasons in order to avoid appearing incompetent or revealing weaknesses. The United States is actively working to portray China as having falsely obscured the true extent of its infections. Even in the United States, it is largely unknown whether people who die with symptoms of COVID-19 are actually infected, have been exposed to the virus but have died due to other problems, or have died from common causes such as seizures heart or stroke without any symptoms or diagnosis related to COVID, but many of which were caused by damage caused by the virus.

The greatest enemy is ignorance

We just don’t know the answers to many of these questions. There are also political reasons for obscuring the truth.

In addition, the desperation to try to find the truth has greened a variety of tests that simply aren’t precise enough to provide useful results. A study of tests that have been rushed to use in the United States without the lengthy and typical approval process of standard FDA certification indicated that many of the antibody tests currently in use give false positives so often that their results create additional chaos.

There are now groups on Facebook and elsewhere who are actively promoting conspiracy theories which suggest that the entire pandemic is a globalist effort to enslave individuals and force people to be vaccinated in order to restrict their freedoms. Without clear, non-political data on what is really going on, we will continue to suffer from bad public policy based on bad data, without a clear understanding of what is really going on.

And as mistakes are made by public servants who rely on inaccurate data, confidence in authority and science will erode and more people will be pushed into desperation to believe anything that seems plausible. It will be disastrous for society, for individuals and for the economy.

Where are the tests?

Regardless of their political affiliation, the executive and legislative powers of the federal and state governments of the United States lose credibility, largely because of decisions made without clear and precise foundations. People are less and less confident in governments to provide tests, as the weeks have passed and the promises of widely available large-scale tests have simply turned out to be unreliable.

This represents a huge opportunity for companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft to work together in their own interest to build public confidence in business activity, as well as public policy shaped by precise data. and real. These companies all have intimate access to their customers and audiences. Most people would be more willing to trust these companies than their elected political overlords, many of whom have witnessed extremely embarrassing mistakes.

As the pandemic approached, Apple quickly identified several ways to help. One way was to take his existing research that he had already done to create a secure system to find the lost material for his “Find My” application and adapt it to develop a safe and secure way to track potentially proximal transmissions with individuals infected with viruses and communicate this data without revealing the identity or location of users.

Governments from the UK to France in Australia quickly jumped on the idea of ​​using the coronavirus panic to deploy their own large-scale surveillance systems to track viral transmission which they could then perpetually use to track also other activities ranging from drug use to money laundering and trafficking in human beings. and other crimes. Other governments would also like a system allowing them to track down terrorists or dissidents or even political rivals.

However, Apple has stridently pushed to make its COVID-19 tracking system independent of politics and to keep control over the system, allowing it to both activate and shut down once the pandemic is over.

It’s time for the big techs to flex their muscles for us

If Apple and other large global companies similarly pursued large-scale testing, they could assure users that their tests would not be used to promote political oppression or other partisan efforts, by collecting data that scientists could use to inform responsible and intelligent public policy, no matter what politicians do. would like to arrive. We desperately need this non-partisan, non-nationalist, non-political and non-racist data to inform public policy and convince skeptics of the need to pursue what may be difficult and costly best practices needed to save lives and restart. safely global economies.

We have never needed billions of dollars in companies before to step in and test the power of our politically motivated governments. We desperately need their help to provide reliable test data that our governments fail to collect competently. And it is in the financial interest of these big companies to provide reliable test data, because as long as we suffer from incompetent political squabbles that will erode people’s confidence in their own governments, these companies will also suffer dramatically from the economic uncertainty and disregard for construction for sloppy public policy driven by ideology rather than data and facts.

Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft could start by quickly testing their own employees, followed by membership tests provided to their customers. Leveraging their relationships with users, these and other companies could start to compile real-world data that would help inform epidemiologists and other scientists working to better understand how this virus works, how it affects infected people, security. exposure to reinfection, what risks are there to individuals with preexisting problems that make them vulnerable, and how best to spend public resources to mitigate the damage caused by the virus and its sp.

Without this data, these businesses could end up losing some segments of their customers unnecessarily while others would shrink out of fear without a solid basis for understanding what degree of social interaction is safe and necessary to return to normal work. This pandemic clearly hits some people much harder than others. It is the responsibility – and in the best interest – of our tech giants to help protect the vulnerable and give those who can do all they can to avoid infection and also avoid fear irrational of an enemy virus still largely mysterious.

We desperately need the test data, only it can be trusted to deliver it to us. Will they help?

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