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Software Developed at PNNL Provided Early Alert to Covid-19

Text analysis software developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory began tracking a new, unidentified viral pneumonia spreading across China in December 2019. A month later it had a name, Covid-19. The software, called BioFeeds, is used by dozens of U.S. government agencies to monitor open-source text information worldwide to identify active and potential biological, chemical, and radiation threats to humans, animals, and the environment. The program has harvested information in 90 languages from more than 800,000 reports, news articles, blogs, scientific research, web sites and other sources.

PNNL developed BioFeeds in 2016 and released it online three years ago. It is currently monitoring about 275 diseases globally. Covid-19 was added to the list early this year.

The software uses natural language processing algorithms to “read the article and find information about an event and its potential impacts. Then, it segregates the information into specific subjects, including the type of threat, event details, potential impacts, and measures being taken to mitigate the effects of the event.

More information on this program can be found at PNNL.