Scientists unleash a Bluetooth-powered ‘virtual virus’ to study COVID-19


One of the biggest challenges in managing the coronavirus pandemic has been the lack of real-time information on the spread of the virus.

If the goal of well-meaning governments is clear – to mitigate the spread with minimal economic and social impact – it is very difficult to decide on the best policy to achieve it.

In Australia, public health authorities have consistently encouraged testing for the virus. The main driver behind this has been the desire to find positive cases and follow up on their contacts.

A by-product is information about how the virus is spread in the general population, which can be used to inform decisions about measures such as wearing a mask and restricting movement.

However, at best, the information provided by those tested is partial, biased and backward. This makes it difficult to make real-time decisions on when to impose restrictions, which are arguably the most important tool in the fight against the pandemic.