There is skepticism about Artificial Intelligence in recent times. Many fear the misuse of this cutting-edge technology and its less collaborative behavior with humans. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it has done more good than bad. AI in its current state is effective enough to help us in our fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Let’s take a look into how AI can be leveraged to fight pandemics like coronavirus.
AI can help in the faster tracking of an upcoming pandemic that gives us enough time to prepare or even prevent the outbreak from spiraling out of control. A Canada-based company called Blue Dot was able to identify the outbreak in Wuhan even before the world population came to know of it. This company used AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to sift through 100,000 online resources like posts, articles in 65 languages daily and flagged unusual cases of pneumonia in China.
Track Virus Outbreak
With the novel COVID-19 spreading across the world, researches are turning to AI and social media to track the virus. A team of experts at the Boston Children Hospital are using ML to sift through news reports, official public health channels, social media posts and doctors’ reports of potential cases and have released a publicly accessible heat map that live-tracks the virus.
AI can help front-line health workers to better monitor and detect positive cases of Coronavirus. China’s tech giant Alibaba has come up with an AI-based tool that can diagnose the COVID-19. Alibaba claims that its new tool can detect coronavirus with 96% accuracy from CT scans of patients. It takes about only 20 secs for the AI to come to a determination that otherwise requires about 15 minutes for the humans to come to the same conclusion.
Robots can be deployed to perform various tasks from cleaning and disinfecting hospitals and quarantine facilities to delivering medicine & food thereby reducing human-to-human contact which is the need of the hour during a disease outbreak. Pudu Technology, a Shenzhen-based company deployed its robots in around 40 hospitals around China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a disease outbreak, drones are one of the fastest as well as the safest means to deliver medical supplies to healthcare providers. A Japanese-based company Terra Drone employed its UAV system to transport medical and quarantine supplies from People’s Hospital to Xinchang County’s Disease control center during the recent coronavirus outbreak. Drones are also quite handy during the lockdown period. They can be used to patrol public places, check for quarantine mandate non-compliance and thermal imaging purposes.
Drug Discovery & Development
AI is playing a major role in drug discovery and development against coronavirus. Google’s DeepMind, Longevity Vision Fund’s Insilico Medicine, BenevolentAI and others are leveraging AI-based systems to accelerate drug discovery and development.
DeepMind used its algorithms and computing power to identify and understand proteins that make up the virus. BenevolentAI’s predictive capabilities are helping to identify existing drugs that might be useful against coronavirus. Insilico Medicine was able to identify new molecules that can act as potential medications for coronavirus thereby helping to fast-track drug trials and vaccine development.
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