Jeremy Orr, MD, MPH: Contact Tracing Downfalls During COVID-19

July 14, 2020

The US is behind other countries when it comes to effectively leveraging contact tracing.

Jeremy Orr, MD, MPH

Over the last month and a half to 2 months, public health officials and experts have been leveraging contact tracing to track individuals who may have been in contact with someone previously exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). But some countries are excelling when it comes to contact tracing, while others are still far behind in seeing the benefits of the technology.

“This is another unfortunate example in the US anyway of using archaic technology for this problem,” Jeremy Orr, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of Medial EarlySign, said in a recent interview with HCPLive®.

In the US, the approach for contact tracing is to hire a lot of people to do the job. In New York City, for example, some 3000 individuals were employed as contact tracers in a semi-manual way. These workers were tasked with recording who others came in contact with to carve out a possible path and see everyone who may have been exposed to someone with the disease.

All the data are displayed in a software to be looked at.

“We can do better and there are countries in Europe that have already done this,” Orr said.

Technologies like mobile apps can be used, along with electronic surveys, to record all the data necessary to trace COVID-19. But privacy and safety concerns arise, especially in the US.

“We have to find a better technological solution to handle this more efficiently,” he said.

To hear more from Orr, watch the clip below.