China to set up surveillance network with cutting-edge technologies of big data and AI to early warning of epidemic: Zhang Wenhong
Published: May 16, 2024 09:49 PM
Zhang Wenhong Photo: CCTV

Zhang Wenhong Photo: CCTV

Cutting-edge technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence (AI) will be widely used in China’s establishment of a monitoring network that integrates epidemic surveillance, early warning, and prevention and control systems covering the environment, hospitals and the communities, China’s renowned infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong said. 

Since the damage inflicted by the three-year of COVID-19 epidemic, health issues have become the foremost concern in terms of people’s well-being, Zhang, director of the National Medical Center for Infectious Diseases in Shanghai, said during an interview with the Central China Television (CCTV). Global epidemic prevention and control system urgently needs systematic reform and international collaboration; new technologies of big data and AI will be widely used in epidemic monitoring, warning and prevention to improve the efficiency and accuracy of treatment, he said. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, governments worldwide have done much preparation to cope with future new epidemics including “Disease X,” which doesn't represent a specific disease, but rather an infectious disease triggered by an unknown pathogen that could lead to a global pandemic, Zhang noted. 

According to Zhang, epidemics like COVID-19 were not the first in human history, thus scientists and relevant governments from across the world had discussions as early as in 2018. Despite of the discussions, there still lacks of adequate preparations, such as warning and monitoring of the epidemics as well as the provision of medicines and vaccines in advance. 

Many deputies proposed during this year’s two secessions to improve the existing disease surveillance systems and advance monitoring, testing and early warning capacities in terms of comprehension, in-depth and multi-dimension prospects. 

The National Medical Center for Infectious Diseases where Zhang works has set up a warning network for many hospitals in China to realize informatization and unification, and improve clinical testing capabilities, Zhang said, noting that based on the network, a multi-level warning system will be established to monitor prevailing viruses as well as conduct tests on sewage water to achieve early warning. 

With the establishment of a complete surveillance network covering environment, hospital and communities, epidemics can be identified immediately for the health departments to exert early prevention and control, Zhang said. 

In terms of the international cooperation in epidemic monitoring and cooperation in global public health, Zhang said that China has maintained a positive attitude toward global integration. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC) has been regularly sharing its national data of influenza with the international influenza surveillance network. 

In the future, more exploration work will be carried out by China to realize data sharing between countries and with the World Health Organization (WHO). According to Zhang, China has set up an infectious disease surveillance network, which is expected to get linked with those in other countries through the WHO. 

Global Times