Flood of Covid queries on Twitter: New developer tools ease access to leads


A deluge of posts with keywords such as ‘remdesivir’, ‘fabiflu’, ‘oxygen’, ‘ICU’, ‘plasma’, and the like from both those needing such Covid-19 essentials and those with leads for availability has happened on microblogging site Twitter over the past one week.

This is in line with the spike in the number of coronavirus cases India is witnessing during the second wave of the pandemic.

This has led to creation of several online tools that allow people to filter these online resources to find what they require geography-wise. Two such tools — ‘https://covidresources.vercel.app’ and ‘https://covid19-twitter.in’ — are built upon Twitter. These tools have been built by web developers Delhi-based Arnav Gosain and Bengaluru-based Umang Galaiya.

The release of tools like these also prompted Twitter to put out information regarding its own search tool. “Twitter is an open platform. All tweets are public. With advanced search, you can look for anything: by topic, by location, etc. Most people don’t use it. But one engineer, @umanghome from #Bengaluru, did to help others during #COVID19India…,” Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari said in a post Friday.

Later, Twitter India posted: “All across the country, people are using Twitter to find the latest information and access to resources right now. As this people’s movement unfolds, we wanted to remind you of some of the features that could help you find what you’re looking for faster … Advanced Search twitter.com/search-advanced can help you filter for fields like a specific hashtag, time period, or Tweets from a particular account”.

On Sunday, Twitter India announced a special page on the site called COVID-19 SOS, which is a list of various resources that gets updated in real time as people tweet about the availability or need for resources.

Gosain’s website — Covid India Twitter Resources — allows users to filter tweets based on location and resources. These include 39 locations including bigger cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, in addition to smaller ones such as Nashik, Gorakhpur, Coimbatore, Rohtak, Ranchi, among others.

The website lets filtering of keywords ‘beds’, ‘favipiravir’, ‘ICU’, ‘Oxygen’, ‘Plasma’, ‘Remdesivir’, ‘Tocilizumab’, ‘Ventilator’. The website updates the tweets on its page every 10 minutes.

On the other hand, Galaiya’s platform — Twitter Search for COVID — is built upon Twitter’s advanced search feature, and a search query on the new tool takes the user directly to the microblogging platform with a customised input for the search feature. On the webpage, Galaiya’s tool gives users the option to enter a city of their choice in a search box and select options such as ‘beds’, ‘ICU’, ‘ventilator’, ‘tests’, ‘oxygen’, ‘fabiflu’, ‘remdesivir’, ‘favipiravir’, ‘tocilizumab’, ‘plasma’, ‘food’, or an empty text box for any other search query.

The webpage also displays a list of 13 frequently searched cit­ies, which are Delhi, Pune, Mum­bai, Bengaluru, Thane, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa and Jaipur.

A third website — developed by three IIT Delhi graduates, called CovRelief — uses data sources including official ones like government websites, in addition to those doing the rounds on the internet to availability of vacant beds, oxygen and medicines in various cities.

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