U.S. engineers have designed a small tabletop device that can detect SARS-CoV-2 from a saliva sample in about an hour. In a new study, they showed that the diagnostic is just as accurate as the PCR tests now used.
The device can also be used to detect specific viral mutations linked to some of the SARS-CoV-2 variants that are now circulating. This result can also be obtained within an hour, potentially making it much easier to track different variants of the virus, especially in regions that don’t have access to genetic sequencing facilities.
Researchers demonstrated that the platform can be programmed to detect new variants that emerge, and that they could repurpose it quite quickly. In this study, they targeted the U.K., South African, and Brazilian variants, but the diagnostic platform could adapt to address the Delta variant and other ones that are emerging.
The goal was to create an entirely self-contained diagnostic that requires no other equipment. Essentially the patient spits into this device, and then you push down a plunger and you get an answer an hour later. The researchers designed the device so that it can have up to four modules that each look for a different target RNA sequence. The original module contains RNA guide strands that detect any strain of SARS-CoV-2. Other modules are specific to mutations associated with some of the variants that have arisen in the past year.
The Delta variant was not yet widespread when the researchers performed this study, but because the system is already built, they say it should be straightforward to design a new module to detect that variant. The system could also be easily programmed to monitor for new mutations that could make the virus more infectious.
The researchers first tested their device with human saliva spiked with synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequences, and then with about 50 samples from patients who had tested positive for the virus. They found that the device was just as accurate as the gold standard PCR tests now used, which require nasal swabs and take more time and significantly more hardware and sample handling to yield results.
The device produces a fluorescent readout that can be seen with the naked eye, and the researchers also designed a smartphone app that can read the results and send them to public health departments for easier tracking.
The new diagnostic, which relies on CRISPR technology, can be assembled for about $15, but those costs could come down significantly if the devices were produced at scale. Researchers believe their device could be produced at a cost as low as $2 to $3 per device. They envision that this kind of diagnostic could be useful either for people who want to be able to test at home or in health care centres in areas without widespread access to PCR testing or genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants.
The ability to detect and track these variants is essential to effective public health, but unfortunately, variants are currently diagnosed only by nucleic acid sequencing at specialised epidemiological centres that are scarce even in resource-rich nations.
U.S. researchers have been developing new technologies to mitigate COVID-19, such as face masks that can detect COVID-19 infection. As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. Engineers have designed a novel face mask that can diagnose the wearer with COVID-19 within about 90 minutes. The masks are embedded with tiny, disposable sensors that can be fitted into other face masks and could also be adapted to detect other viruses, including influenza, Ebola, and Zika.
The Philippines has begun issuing individual electronic land titles (e-titles) to 1,839 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the Eastern Visayas region. The Department of Agrarian Reform will give the ARBs their personalised e-titles (DAR).
DAR stated that 2,591 electronic titles (e-titles) totalling 3,922 hectares of the agricultural property would be given on Jan. 26 as part of the Support to Parcelisation of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT Project). The first batch of individual titles developed by the SPLIT Project will be distributed in the Visayas State University-Tolosa Campus auditorium.
According to DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III, this is per President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s direction to hasten the issuance of land titles to ARBs this year and to provide support services to help them better their living conditions.
“We will issue individual e-titles to preserve and affirm our ARBs’ property rights,” he explained.
The SPLIT initiative proposes fast-tracking the subdivision of national collective certificates of land ownership award (CCLOAs) of around 1.3 million hectares of land. The World Bank supported the SPLIT initiative to partition CCLOAs and tribute individual titles to ARBs.
According to DAR Eastern Visayas Regional Director Robert Anthony Yu, the SPLIT project includes approximately 17,496 CCLOAs encompassing a total of 220,473 hectares of agricultural properties throughout the region. Yu stated that the area has verified around 67,601 hectares, while 3,922 hectares have been granted with e-titles.
The SPLIT project seeks to fully implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme by allowing farmer-beneficiaries to have clear and defined ownership of the parcels of land they are tilling. The e-titling aim to stimulate farmers to grow their crops and make long-term progress on their ground. The award to ARBs was also established to stabilise requests, tenure ship, govern lands, and generate short-term economic opportunities for project workers who will be employed in the project.
Estrella stated in an earlier interview that farmers could not successfully use the land to make income because they needed to know the metes and bounds of the land assigned to each of them. Estrella believes that by granting farmers individual rights, more ARBs will be inspired to enhance their landholdings, resulting in higher agricultural output and household income.
The Philippines pushed land management digitalisation. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Land Management Bureau (LMB) has fully integrated the Land Administration Management System (LAMS) databases of 16 local and community environment and natural resource bureaus in the Philippines into their respective regional offices.
LAMS is a computer-based information system consolidating the country’s land data and records. It is geared for quick and straightforward land information processing, tracking, and retrieval. As a result, the DENR-NCR and DENR-Calabarzon Regional LAMS datasets were combined to create LMB-LAMS.
LMB also pooled and assessed 19 towns undergoing Digital Cadastral Database Cleansing through different DENR regional offices. LMB Director Emelyne Talabis adds that the agency is happy with its accomplishments this year on critical programmes, which resulted in improved delivery of land-related services to Filipinos.
The Philippines generally attempted to improve its digital competencies after falling behind. The Philippines placed last among Southeast Asian countries in the 2022 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking. Furthermore, it is the 13th largest economy in Asia, trailing only Mongolia.
The Senate has rolled out an act to push the complete e-governance implementation in the Philippines. All government agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including local government entities, are required under the bill to disclose all necessary information in both traditional and online formats. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be the principal agency in enforcing the provisions of the Act.
The Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) join forces with a government IT firm to create a digital Public Service Mall (MPP). The initiative is a follow-up to President Joko Widodo’s directive to establish MPP Digital.
According to Minister PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas, the IT government company is more advanced in digitalisation implementation. MPP Digital incorporates numerous services into the hand to make it easier for people to access high-quality government services.
“MPP Digital provides effective and efficient service delivery while enhancing information security for government digital services. The government IT company team will expedite the President’s vision for MPP Digital,” he explained.
MPP Digital is also expected to increase investment by allowing for faster and easier licencing, leading to job possibilities. In addition, the local administration will not need to construct a massive MPP building but will rely on digitalisation that everyone can access.
MPP Digital is expected to be ready by May 2023, following the President and Vice President’s directives. The creation of MPP Digital is also under the government’s present implementation of the Electronic Based Government System (SPBE).
At the same time, Ririek Adriansyah, the Main Director of the government IT company, declared his willingness to support the government’s initiative. He conveyed that the construction of MPP Digital was proceeding as planned because the digitalisation of services has enormous potential benefits for both the government and the general public.
Additionally, the government is working hard to progress SPBE, including introducing Digital Public Service Malls (MPP) as one of SPBE’s expressions. SPBE is also a component of President Joko Widodo’s Thematic Bureaucratic Reform, which is aimed at digitising government services.
The next Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE) aims to strengthen unity by offering a single access system for the country’s digital services, resulting in higher public service quality. Nowadays, the state’s digital public sector is still fragmented by agency, sector, and silo-based systems. As a result, citizens are frequently required to submit similar data and register several accounts to access various digital-based public sector services.
As a result, Anas will pursue a single sign-on account for users to access various government services. Users can utilise their accounts to access all public services e-services, such as population issues, business permissions, and other certifications. Digital MPP has done so following President Jokowi’s and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin’s objective to achieve bureaucratic reform with simple, powerful, and quick replies to the community.
More MPPs have been built and inaugurated by the government. In the future, all regions will have physical and digital MPPs, with all government services based on demographic numbers (Digital ID). MPP Digital, on the guidance of the President and Vice President, has become the PANRB ministry’s short-term focus.
As of December 2022, 103 MPPs (20% of the total of 514 regencies/cities in Indonesia) had been inaugurated in regencies and cities. Thus, fewer than 80%, or approximately 411 districts/cities, still need MPP. The Vice President aimed for roughly 150 new MPPs in 2023, with all towns and regencies having MPPs by the end of 2024.
The Ministry of PANRB has evaluated 10-15 MPPs (Public Service Malls) for inclusion in the future Digital MPP development process. These MPPs were chosen for their uniqueness, benefits, and good qualities. In general, the MPP Digital application development will be divided into four stages: requirements, design, testing, and upgrading.
Anas emphasised that government digitisation is a critical driver in enhancing the quality of public services, which would increase people’s well-being. Bureaucratic reform must increase investment and streamline business services, boosting the economic level of society. Improving the community’s financial level will undoubtedly influence the lowering poverty rate.
This year, the government wants relevant ministries and agencies to tighten management and increase oversight of e-commerce activities to identify violations and prevent tax losses. The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will work with departments from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Finance to share data and better regulate business activity on social media and in cyberspace.
The inspections will also focus on ensuring that e-commerce platforms and social networks are taking proper steps to screen, prevent and block accounts that do not provide adequate information or have signs of trading in counterfeit or illegal goods.
The E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will continue to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Market Management Agency, the Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and MIC to inspect and monitor e-commerce businesses for compliance with the law, in accordance with plans approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade.
The agency will also evaluate existing policies and make practical changes to improve the management of e-commerce business activities. It will upgrade infrastructure and supporting services and incorporate new technologies to assist the digital transformation of businesses.
Furthermore, the agency will offer training to improve the inspection and handling of violations in e-commerce. It will organise events to promote anti-counterfeiting and encourage e-commerce website operators to better protect consumers’ interests.
Last year, Vietnam’s e-commerce industry continued to grow and become a significant distribution channel. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, e-commerce has been a leading sector in the digital economy. A survey from the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that retail e-commerce revenue in Vietnam increased by 20% in 2022 as compared to 2021, reaching US$ 16.4 billion. This accounted for 7.5% of the total retail sales of goods and services in the country.
To establish trust for consumers in online shopping, safeguard legitimate traders, and foster e-commerce development, the government reviewed and requested e-commerce companies to remove or lock 1,663 stalls with 6,437 counterfeits or violated goods, and blocked five infringing websites.
Experts recommend that there should be regulations on the responsibility of information security of relevant organisations and individuals in order to prevent tax loss and protect business interests. This includes regulations on the security of websites and the responsibility to provide information to tax authorities, which would help make tax management more effective.
Associate Professor Le Xuan Truong, Director of the Academy of Finance’s Faculty of Taxation and Customs under the Ministry of Finance, suggested that the government should implement a regulation that forces e-commerce trading floors to be responsible for withholding and paying taxes on behalf of individuals as well as perform payment intermediary services and participate in operating and controlling delivery activities and receiving money from buyers. Over 40 countries worldwide so far have regulated the responsibility of e-commerce exchanges in deducting taxes of individuals if the floor provides payment services, or directly participates in the delivery and receipt of goods by buyers and sellers.
Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health, announced the development of SATUSEHAT, an interoperable Indonesian health data system. Budi aimed to complete the digitalisation of health data by January 2024. In keeping with the spirit of an impactful bureaucracy, the Minister of Health is sure Indonesians would benefit from digitisation.
“The concept is interchangeable; (health facilities) can use the information anywhere: all hospitals, both public and private, pharmacies, clinics, health centres, and labs throughout Indonesia will use the same data format, and (the data) can be exchanged,” he said at the launch of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) Space in Jakarta.
SATUSEHAT is a health platform that serves as a forum for various health apps from companies in the health business. As a result, all applications and health service facilities on the SATUSEHAT platform, including vertical hospitals, government hospitals, private hospitals, health centres, Posyandu, laboratories, clinics, and pharmacies, must adhere to the Ministry of Health’s criteria.
People no longer need to carry physical medical record files while moving hospitals because of this platform. All patient medical record resumes have been digitally captured on the SATUSEHAT platform, which can be viewed from anywhere and at any time using mobile phones.
“For certain users who haven’t been able to produce health applications, we can aid later. (And) We can eventually give standard and free applications for significant stakeholders such as Puskesmas (community health centres) and Posyandu (toddler integrated service post). This way, we can do data integration elegantly on the same platform,” Budi confirmed.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health established DTO as a Ministry of Health work unit dedicated to implementing the Healthy Indonesia programme by developing effective data-driven policies and digital technology products. User-Based Technology Development, National Health Data Integration, Technology Capacity Building, and Data-Based Policy Making are the four principles of digital transformation being implemented.
Budi directed the DTO and the Data and Information Centre (Pusdatin) to take meaningful actions to expedite national health data digitisation. DTO must complete nationwide health interoperability that is transparent and accessible to all parties. The merger process started on July 6, 2022, and is expected to be finished by the end of 2023.
Another challenge is to combine clinical and genomic data to assess the health of the Indonesian population deployed with Artificial Intelligence to create more detailed and exact results. AI will subsequently support the Ministry of Health’s clinical and genomic data. The services are designed to help Indonesia advance health biotechnology.
During the inauguration ceremony, the Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), Abdullah Azwar Anas, praised the Ministry of Health’s digital transformation in the healthcare system. He anticipated that the shift would affect at least five items. First and foremost, it increases the quality of healthcare services. Second, it improves access to healthcare services. Third, raise the added value of the health sector economy with a focus on domestic goods.
Fourth, speeding the achievement of the government’s main healthcare projects, such as lowering stunting prevalence. Fifth, strengthen health human resource expertise while guaranteeing equitable distribution across the country.
“For example, we may ensure that a health concern is treated by integrating data, then monitoring therapy until the assessment is entirely digitally driven. We can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, in which health technology was extremely useful in combating the pandemic,” he went on to say.
Anas believes that the Ministry of Health’s SATUSEHAT will soon be merged with the National Electronic-Based Government System. He praised the tremendous efforts made by the Ministry of Health to implement digital transformation.
The Ministry of Health’s consolidation initiative can serve as a model for other Ministries/Institutions looking to increase work units’ roles in supervising the government’s digitalisation activities. Anas is optimistic that the integrated ecosystem of digital health data will be a huge step forward for the country’s health sector.
Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn, disclosed that the Cabinet adopted the Royal Decree Measures for Prevention and Suppression of Technology Crime in principle. Accordingly, the act was assigned to the Office of the Council of State for consideration before further enforcement.
In essence, the proposed order prescribes steps to prevent and suppress deceit in people transferring money by telephone or other means. The law also grants authorities the authority to regulate financial transactions. It prohibits opening accounts on electronic cards or wallets to bring money or property to be used in criminal acts.
The proposed Decree requires financial institutions and business operators to disclose information about their client’s accounts and transactions via a data exchange system to suspend transactions when necessary.
“The drafting of this law is a collaboration of several agencies, including the Royal Thai Police, the NBTC Office, and the Bank of Thailand. Thai Bankers Association Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), etc., believe that this regulation will undoubtedly assist in eliminating the problem of ghost sims, pony accounts, and online crime problems,” Chaiwut clarified.
Procedures for halting transactions can be done when a financial institution or business operator discovers a questionable issue or is told by a competent official. They must advise financial institutions or business owners to halt transactions. The transmitting financial institution or company operator must promptly halt future transactions. They can comply with the transaction if they inspect and find no suspicious cause.
If the victim reports a fraudulent transaction, financial institutions or business operators must immediately and temporarily cease transactions and tell financial institutions or business operators receiving transfers to do the same. For the victim to file a complaint with the investigators within 48 hours, the investigators must act on that account and electronic wallet within seven days of notification. Notification of information or evidence can be sent by phone or electronically.
Furthermore, Telecommunication Service Providers have the authority to communicate information and allow the Royal Thai Police, AMLO offices, and approved agencies to view the information exchanged. At the same time, the Office of the NBTC is in charge of developing the central database for user registration information, short messages, investigation, and prevention.
The use or disclosure of personal data to prevent, detect, and deter online crime will follow personal data protection legislation. It is required to properly tackle the social media problem of fraudulent people and eliminate some legal issues that cause the integration of work between multiple agencies to be stopped or delayed in the current situation.
The act governs the usage of an account and a SIM card. It will instruct consumers to create a personal account for an electronic card or wallet. The act of opening a without the purpose of using it will be considered an infringement. Anyone who knowingly or ought to knowingly allow another individual to use or borrow their SIM card is breaking the law since criminals could use it for fraud or illegal conduct. Breaches of this law may be imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 300,000 baht (US$9163.10) or both.
It is illegal for anybody to obtain, market, or post news to purchase or sell accounts, electronic cards, electronic wallets, or phone sim cards that may result in criminal activity. Anyone who breaches this will face imprisonment for 2 to 5 years and a fine ranging from 200,000 baht (US$9163.1) to 500,000 baht (US$15271.84) or both.
When aberrant behaviour is discovered or a complaint is made to the bank and enables banks and relevant organisations to reveal and exchange information about online crimes through a standard database system. Thai authorities have the authority to suspend or postpone financial transactions for an extended length of time.
Special Wisit Wisitsorn-at, Professor, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, expressed the MDES need to present the draft to the Office of the Council of State for review and consideration before the announcement goes into effect.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda urged the government to prioritise cell sites in geographically isolated and disadvantageous regions (GIDA), indigenous villages, and other upland places. In addition, she advocated that the government’s digitalisation and internet connectivity initiative be implemented throughout Antique province in the future years.
In her hometown of Antique, 40% of the populace uses Globe and Smart connectivity. However, their tower locations are focused on urban regions. As a result, Legarda requested that WiFi hotspots be deployed throughout the province.
Legarda discussed her proposals with Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo, Undersecretary Angelo Nuestro, and Assistant Secretary Philip Varilla at the Senate of the Philippines.
Around 18 Antique towns will undergo digital transformations to improve municipal services to be more accessible, faster, and more efficient. Legarda, the primary author of Republic Act No. 10844, the law that established the DICT, underlined the importance of ICT infrastructure, systems, and resources in ensuring universal access to excellent, cheap, dependable, and secure ICT services.
“We are doing this in Antique, and we will do it in other areas of the country. With our stronger cooperation with the DICT, we want every community, even our indigenous communities, to be digitally linked so that they are not left aside,” she added.
Meanwhile, Lamentillo said the DICT would pursue its mandate to build the digital infrastructure connecting communities, especially those in far-flung areas. The connectivity programme also provides citizens with better quality of life by delivering speedy and efficient government services to the people.
“We thank Senator Loren Legarda for her unwavering support to the DICT, from its inception and up to the present as we strive to ensure that every community in the country is digitally connected,” she declared.
Under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the Philippines has strengthened efforts to develop the country’s internet connection. He promised his administration would do all its power to offer free internet connection to rural communities. The government plans to roll out the “BroadBand ng Masa Programme” (BBMP) to all isolated islands, especially those without a mobile cellular connection.
BBMPs across the country give free internet access to students and teachers from geographically isolated and disadvantaged regions (GIDAs). As part of the programme, an additional 628 operational free WiFi sites were installed, increasing the total amount of such WiFi sites throughout the Philippines to 4,757. At least 2.1 million unique users, or around 100,000 families, can access the government’s free internet connections. Interconnectivity and government services will benefit from digital technologies.
DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy was optimistic about the programme’s ability to help develop a “direct relationship” between GIDAs and the government. Establishing the Free WiFi for All Programme is one of the government’s accomplishments in boosting connection. He committed to increasing efforts to extend internet connection to more remote places.
Indonesia is made a similar push to persuade local governments to accelerate the provision of digital infrastructure for telecommunications and internet needs in rural locations. To service the community in all villages/sub-districts in Indonesia’s most remote, outlying, and underserved (3T) sites that have yet to be served by a 4G signal network. The BTS was built with funds from the State Revenue and Expenditure Budget by the Ministry of Communication and Information.
The BTS will be a downstream facility allowing the public to benefit from upstream infrastructure such as a broadband fibre-optic cable network. Another method for providing internet connection to rural schools and health care facilities is the SATRIA-I Satellite and the Hot Backup Satellite.
Sybill, an artificial intelligence tool, has been developed to estimate the risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the world’s deadliest cancer, accounting for 1.7 million fatalities in 2020, killing more people than the following three deadliest cancers combined. Consequently, it is critical to have an early detection solution to provide immediate treatment.
Cancer early identification AI tools can result in a better long-term outcome, according to MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health, Mass General Cancer Centre (MGCC), and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH). When it’s advanced, the five-year survival rate for the lung cancer patient is closer to 70%, compared to 10% when it’s early.
“It’s the worst cancer because it’s so common and so difficult to treat, especially once it’s advanced,” explained Florian Fintelmann, MGCC Thoracic Interventional Radiologist and Co-author of the current study.
Today’s images of the lung computed tomography (LDCT) procedure is presently the most common way people are checked for lung cancer to detect it early enough to be surgically removed. But Sybill takes the screening a step further in comparison to LDCT. It can forecast the likelihood of a patient acquiring lung cancer within six years by analysing LDCT imaging data without the intervention of a radiologist.
Co-author Peter Mikhael, an MIT PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science and an affiliate of Jameel Clinic and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), associated the procedure with “trying to identify a needle in a haystack”. However, Sybill successfully detects early-stage cancer with satisfactory results, as shown in a new article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Fintelmann and his team labelled hundreds of CT scans with evident cancerous tumours that would be used to train Sybil before testing the model on CT scans with no discernible evidence of disease. The researchers took precautionary measures to ensure Sybil’s ability to identify cancer risk appropriately.
Sybil achieved C-indices of 0.75, 0.81, and 0.80 using a heterogeneous group of lung LDCT scans gathered from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST), Mass General Hospital (MGH), and CGMH over six years. Models with a C-index score of more than 0.7 are regarded as good and models greater than 0.8 are considered strong, with 1.00 being the maximum attainable score. The ROC-AUCs for Sybil’s one-year prediction were considerably higher, ranging from 0.86 to 0.94.
Jeremy Wohlwend, an MIT electrical engineering and computer science PhD student and Jameel Clinic and CSAIL collaborator, was shocked by Sybil’s excellent score despite the absence of apparent disease. “We discovered that even while we [as humans] couldn’t see where the cancer was, the model could still predict which lung would eventually get cancer,” he described. “It was incredibly interesting that [Sybil] could identify which side was the more likely side.”
The 3D aspect of lung CT scans made Sybil challenging to create. Because early-stage lung cancer covers minuscule areas of the lung. It is just a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of pixels that make up each CT scan. The radiology data used to train Sybil was essentially free of any indicators of malignancy. Lung nodules are denser areas of lung tissue that, while they have the potential to be malignant, are most of the time not and can be caused by healed infections or airborne irritants.
In the United State, many patients diagnosed with lung cancer today have never smoked or are former smokers who quit more than 15 years ago – characteristics that preclude both groups from receiving lung cancer CT screening in the United States. However, cancer can affect a young, healthy, and athletic individual. As a result, prevention is vital to saving more lives.