DESY theorist Dr Ayan Paul (Picture: A. Paul).

Winner of Covid-19 Hackathon develops an app for infection risks at DESY

Our start-up consultants at DESY are currently supporting a team that is developing a new app which will enable individuals to better manage their risks in the Corona crisis. DESY theorist Dr Ayan Paul, one of the founders, has agreed to give a short interview. The team met in April at the MIT Hackathon on the topic of Corona and won it.


Dr Ayan Paul has experience in working with sophisticated statistical models that work with large data sets and allow analyses with many parameters. With these extensive amounts of data, he wants to make perspectives visible that would otherwise remain hidden. When the Corona crisis began and everyone had to stay home, Paul wondered how he could contribute to the common good with his scientific knowledge.

In April 2020, the Indian took part in an international hackathon, the "Covid-19 Challenge". Over 1,500 participants from around the world with diverse skills met virtually at the invitation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and formed teams to address various issues related to the corona pandemic. Ayan Paul was part of the six-person team that won the race over the weekend: They had proposed the development of an intelligent algorithm to track the development of immunity to the virus and thus reduce the burden on clinics. Ayan Paul had thus found his mission: This was the starting point for further research in connection with Covid-19.

Ayan, could you describe how your platform CoVis works, or what it should be able to do in the future.

Our CoVis platform is being developed for risk and immunity assessment for Covid-19. It will use public disease prevalence data, such as that from the Robert Koch Institute, location-based mobility data from companies such as Google, and data and insights from the more recent medical literature, and use intelligent algorithms to combine these into models of disease spread and risk.

All this data is then combined with the user data such as age, health status, mobility data and others on the phone to give the user an assessment of their daily risk for Covid-19 and the likelihood of becoming immune to Covid-19.

How secure is the data?

As we take data protection seriously, all user data remains on the phone unless the user explicitly decides to store it on our server in an anonymous form.

The platform will also be set up for the presentation of data in aggregated form for government institutions, health care institutions, insurance companies or large corporations for the purpose of shaping business and social policy. For example, a hospital might want to know the likelihood of immunity to COVID-19 in certain employees so that they can schedule them accordingly or have antibody tests performed.

What background does your team have? What skills do they have?

The core team of CoVis consists of seven members: Geoff Blanding, Dr Ayan Paul, Rebecca Sereda, Jon Seward, Thomas Ribeiro and Dr Chris Suharlim. We all have very different backgrounds, such as healthcare tech, theoretical and computational particle physics, biological research, software development, UX/UI development and medicine/public health. This diversity is an important key to our success. We also initially had a seventh member, Zoe Law, who is now present in an advisory capacity.

Did you recruit more staff after the hackathon? What are your plans for the future?

In the past two months, more people have joined us to help us reach our goal. Remarkable, for example, is Jessica Shen’s contribution, who helps with the design of the user interface and branding. Some of the newcomers are from the second round of the MIT Covid-19 Challenge. Once we have raised funds for our company, we want to grow quickly and start in several cities and then in several countries. The DESY Innovations and Technology Transfer team and beyourpilot are helping us to do this. The past two months seem like an extremely long and productive journey, for which we have given up a lot of free time, but on which we have achieved a lot. We all have full-time jobs, but in retrospect we have focused entirely on our goals and look forward to achieving them.

Thank you for the interview and good luck!


Here you will find an overview of the planned platform.