How Is AI Helping During The COVID-19 Epidemic?

COVID is now a global emergency, as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). Does leveraging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) help curb the coronavirus? It, already, has.

With limited to almost no data on the novel disease, assisting health workers and researchers becomes a challenge to bring this outbreak to a close. Legacy disease outbreak analysis methods concentrate on the where, when, and what of the related data to predict the likelihood of the disease getting transmissible in a short period. Artificial Intelligence and Data Science have expanded the boundaries of data collection points which makes it possible to predict disease outbreaks.

AI for Surveillance

AI’s full potential is at display during the outbreak of this disease with the convergence of Machine Learning, NLP, etc with IoT, Computer Vision, Drones, etc. Countries are using surveillance cameras powered with Facial Recognition and AI to track, store, and analyze the travel histories of citizens along with their medical conditions if any. Infrared thermal sensors are installed to keep a tab on the body temperatures of every individual and alert the authorities if anybody is flagged to be suspected with the infection. Talking drones are alerting people to take safety precautions.

Mobile apps are being built for citizens to check if there are any infected people in their vicinity. These apps alert the app users as well as the authorities to track the virus spread. Machine Learning models, Image Processing, Deep Learning, and NLP are the crucial technologies to traverse through the limitedly available data on the disease and its contagiousness to curb the disease to the maximum extent.

AI for Predicting COVID impacts

The Machine Learning algorithms collect data from various channels by surfing through tons of articles in various languages. Most of this data is unstructured in the form of news stories, flight maps, messages from social media, videos, and images. Deep Learning algorithms that run on artificial neural networks can help make sense of such unstructured data by identifying markers of infectious diseases from noble sources like google searches, social media, blogs, chat room inquiries, etc to collect data for researchers and government agencies. These insights help in predicting the disease outbreaks at newer locations, more accurate symptom checks, fatality rates, etc that might be helpful in detecting and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

AI for Information Updates and Assistance on COVID

Not much data is available about the virus and the disease to take preventive actions by individuals as well as authorities. Therefore, AI technologies are being extensively leveraged to spread awareness about the precautions to be taken to stay safe, updated information about the infected areas, disease symptoms, treatment procedures, etc.

AI has helped in sending out warnings about the outbreak and has extracted insights from the flight travelers’ data to predict where the disease could next spread to. Multilingual chatbots/virtual assistants are deployed to provide immediate assistance to people about the latest statistics, news, transmission rates, virus-related queries, etc. Many intuitive and interactive dashboards are developed with the available data to provide live updates on the countries infected, recovery and fatality rates, etc.

Qualetics has developed one such dashboard that takes real-time data gathered by John Hopkins University. The university captures live data from Twitter and applies machine learning and deep learning techniques to extract important information.

AI for Medical Assistance & Drug Discovery

China, the entire country being in the containment zone, is utilizing the latest technological advancements like drones and robots to fight the novel disease. Drones are used to supply the necessary medications in most infected areas in China. Robots are deployed to deliver medicines to the virus-infected patients in the hospitals to reduce the pressure on doctors and the possibility of infection.

Scientists and researchers are turning towards the promising AI for drug discovery to cure coronavirus. The researchers were able to sequence the virus gene in the initial few weeks. Machine Learning models are used to find new uses for existing medicines, which may not be crucial for the current situation but the ability of the models to search for compounds that may have hidden uses will be definitely important for the future.

AI-ready for the Future

AI may assist in identifying more accurate symptoms to predict the possibility of new infections that are more benign for respiratory illness. The treatment approaches that are attempted and documented to cure coronavirus must be analyzed with AI to identify the most effective treatment regimes. Applying AI and AI-driven techniques for early detection of disease-outbreaks, like COVID, will stand key for enhanced prediction, prevention, and detection of future global health risks.

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