The Covid-19 outbreak can be predicted by Google search queries
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have concluded that the Covid-19 outbreak can be predicted by queries of interest to users of the Google search engine. They traced the link between the growth of the disease and the increase in inquiries about problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
This is stated in a study published on the hospital’s website.
The experts studied the requests of Internet users from 15 US states using the Google Trends service, and compared them with the registered data on the incidence of Covid-19 in these states for the period from January 20 to April 20, 2020.
Thus, we found the strongest correlation between the search queries “ageusia”, “appetite disturbance”, “diarrhea” and the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the five states with the highest incidence. Given the time difference, the strongest correlation was with a difference of three to four weeks between the increase in interest and the outbreak of Covid-19. That is, about a month before the increase in the incidence of coronavirus, Internet users began to more “Google” the symptoms of the disease.
Loss of appetite and the ability to distinguish between tastes, abdominal pain and diarrhea are common symptoms of coronavirus, the study said. a valuable tool for forecasting pandemics. ”
The researchers also noted that in 2009, Google employees were already showing how to assess the weekly activity of seasonal flu by tracking requests on the Internet for its symptoms.