An early warning system for future pandemics?

Can Twitter be used to detect pandemics before they take off? To find out, researchers at UCI and UCLA are sifting through millions of tweets (and other data) from the months leading up to COVID-19’s big splash, looking for anomalies and patterns that would have provided an early warning of the virus. “It’s a little like searching for a needle in a haystack,” concedes Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at UCI. “But the stakes are high, so it’s worth trying some different approaches.”