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When the pandemic hit, tech giants like Apple and Google as well as upstart technology companies marched out new tools aimed at curbing the crisis. Now, more than two years into the pandemic, we are getting a clearer answer to a crucial question: Did they work?

A new review paper, published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, explores the wide range of apps rolled out to combat the pandemic by monitoring cases, tracking the virus’ spread, keeping tabs on symptoms, and more. Some of those apps brought clear benefits, while others fell short. They also sparked a bevy of questions about the role of technology in health care, including how best to preserve patient privacy.


“I think we are at a point where our data is available, and it’s time to sit down and figure out when we can tap into these data streams … in the most privacy-preserving way during an emergency,” said Jay Pandit, a physician and Director of Digital Medicine at Scripps Research Translational Institute and a co-author of the new paper.

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