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Can AI Help in the Fight Against Coronavirus?

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With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on every global activity, the world has come to a halt. According to the highest global authority on health, World Health organization (WHO),

"Coronavirus disease (COVID -19) is an infectious disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2)."

With the exception of Antarctica, every continent has reported a surging number of infections, and the numbers keep on rising exponentially. This has forced leaders from all over the world to implement lockdown and quarantine measures, to prevent the spread as much as possible.

Even with people residing, leading metropolitan cities look no different than ghost towns, as the stay-at-home measures become more stringent. From schools to airports, everything is at a standstill, and the world has its eyes set for the cure, before regular life can continue again.

In addition, this pandemic is the first ever health crisis of such a scale in this century. Luckily, we have much better tools and technologies to predict, manage and explain the crisis, unlike the health crises that came before.

AI is playing a major role in helping us with important insights, infection spread mapping, vaccine development and in numerous other ways.

Infection Spread Mapping

AI can simplify the process of infection spread mapping, and can ring the alarm before the infection can become a global pandemic. One of the sub-categories of EHR systems with AI is machine learning. With machine learning, intelligent computer systems can be taught to identify common patterns in large sets of data, to pinpoint important insights.

One such AI company that effectively identified such information way ahead of time is BlueDot, based in Toronto, Canada.

"On Dec. 31, BlueDot alerted its customers about a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. Nine days later, the World Health Organization confirmed the discovery of a novel coronavirus, later named COVID-19, in Wuhan. This AI-based system used natural language processing and machine learning to extract data from hundreds and thousands of sources such as foreign news reports, statements of official public health organizations, global airline ticketing data, livestock health reports, and population demographics to track, locate and conceptualize infectious disease spread."

This shows how fast-paced the AI system was when it came to detecting a serious blip on the health radar. Also, it shows the need for such systems to be implemented globally, so that such diseases can be caught at their initial stages, where they can be contained.

Drug Discovery through AI

AI proves to be very powerful when we combine all of its elements, which include machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing. These come together to form the framework for diagnosis and prevention eventually.

Furthermore, the ability of AI to process large amounts of medical data in the least possible time is what makes it way ahead of what was humanly possible before. This gradually leads to the process of treatment and diagnosis.

One such example is of Insilico Medicine,

"Longevity Vision Fund's portfolio company Insilico Medicine used its AI system to identify thousands of molecules for potential medications for COVID19 in just four days. Furthermore, the company published its updated findings openly so that all the researchers around the world can access the findings and contribute towards combating the pandemic effectively."

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Alex Tate is a Health IT writer for various platforms. He provides perceptive, engaging and informative consultancy on industry wide topics. He knows that no single approach is the right one for every practice, and so shall advice according to the (more...)
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