In a move to curb the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil and across Latin America, Google is donating US$1 million (AU$1.36 million) to the UNICEF for research work to determine where it is likely to hit next. The grant will also go into spreading awareness on the virus borne off mosquitos, determining ways to reduce mosquito population, developing vaccines and diagnostics to stop the transmission of the disease.
Google has also launched a similar campaign for Google employees with a goal of providing an extra US$500,000 (AU$679,000) for the Pan American Health Organization along with UNICEF.
Google assigned the task of mapping and determining the pattern in which the Zika virus is spread to a team of engineers, data scientists and designers to work in cooperation with UNICEF.
The Zika virus has become an epidemic in Brazil and Latin America that manifested itself in several birth defects in newborns. The World Health Organization declared it a public health emergency.
“Ultimately, the goal of this open source platform is to identify the risk of Zika transmission for different regions and help UNICEF, governments and NGO’s decide how and where to focus their time and resources,” Google.org Director Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post, as quoted by the USA Today. “This set of tools is being prototyped for the Zika response, but will also be applicable to future emergencies.”
Google search has also added information on the Zika virus in 16 different languages in an effort to spread awareness. According to Google, there have been more than 3,000 percent increase in the searches.
“Unlike many other global pandemics, the spread of Zika has been harder to identify, map and contain. It’s believed that four in five people with the virus don’t show any symptoms, and the primary transmitter for the disease, the mosquito Aedes aegypti, is both widespread and challenging to eliminate,” Fuller said.
The NBC News also reported that Google engineers are working towards building a platform to process data on weather and travel patterns, which will help determine where exactly there is a possibility of an outbreak.