A new challenge for public health people – utilizing computation resources to fight COVID-19
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything world-wide as fighting COVID-19 has become the top priority. In Taiwan, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has announced a new venture called the “Epidemic New Life Movement”. To achieve the goal of Epidemic New Life Movement, the MOHW has appointed the Taiwan Public Health Association (TPHA) to initiate a large-scale national survey in Taiwan, which is led by the chairman of TPHA, Prof. Pau-Chung Chen, and the secretary-general of TPHA, Prof. Hsien-Ho Lin. In addition to the survey, this project aims to understand the life and behavioral changes of Taiwanese people through the accumulation of aggregated data. This project has been reviewed by the Research Ethics Committee, National Taiwan University, with the application ID (202007HM008) in August, 2020. Considering the massive data accumulated in this project, analyzing it is highly time-consuming and requires large computational power. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Corporation in the United States, called for proposals from the whole world as an endeavor to fight COVID-19. Therefore, Tzu-Pin Lu, associate professor at the institute of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the National Taiwan University, served as the principal applicant for the computation grant and is one of the Co-PIs of this project. Eventually, the Microsoft Corporation announced two projects awarded with Azure credits, and this project has obtained a total funding of USD 120,000 to facilitate the analyses. The preliminary tests, of the analyses in this project, have already been accomplished in September 2020. In conclusion, our aim is to setup a working model such as this application to combine strengths from both industry and academia in order to face the challenges from COVID-19.