The Coronavirus has met an unlikely foe in a teen whose COVID-19 tracker is being used globally by over 500 million people.
A 17-year-old from Seattle has become a frontrunner in the fight against COVID-19 by creating a website which tracks the spread of the virus.
Avi Schiffmann, a self-taught coder and Freshman from Seattle, launched the website nCoV2019.live in late December 2019. Since then, the COVID-19 tracker has been visited globally by over 500 million, from every country.
When he initially created the website, there was less than a thousand total cases that were centralised around Wuhan in China. Since then, there have been over a million cases confirmed globally.
The website’s interactive map and resources are updated with information pulled every minute using a coding technique called ‘web-scraping.’
“I thought it would be cool if there was a website that could pull in all the information from all kinds of (sources),” Schiffmann told TODAY Parents.
The information is cross-checked with a number of sources, including the World Health Organisation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Yonhap News Agency in South Korea.
Accessible & easy to understand
In a recent interview with Democracy Now!, Schiffmann explained that his main goal was to provide an easy tool for people to access the facts and data about the virus.
“You can go on a phone and instantly see quick facts,” he explained, “you can see the total amount of cases and the total deaths.”
Busting coronavirus misinformation
Aside from representing all the available data in a clearly and accurately, Schiffmann also hopes that his website will be a tool against the spread of misinformation and panic.
“People should have plans and stock up in advance instead of going on panicked Costco runs now,” he said in a recent interview with The Times of Israel.
Plans for a cure
In a recent tweet, Schiffmann shared his future plans for the website, including the inclusions of a vaccine tracking tool and visual graphs.
Whilst there is currently no vaccine available for COVID-19, several candidates are currently in the process of being developed. This includes two potential compounds which are being tested by Gilead Sciences and Ascletis Pharma.
You can contact Schiffmann on Twitter @AviSchiffmann or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to support his work, you can make a donation at https://ko-fi.com/avischiffmann
Want to read more about how technology is being used in the fight against coronavirus? Read about how the US is using location data to track the spread of COVID-19 here.