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Why AI might be the most able weapon we have to fight COVID-19

If not the most deadly, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the most catching diseases to have hit our green planet in the past decades. In little over three months since the virus was first spotted in acreage China, it has spread to more than 90 countries, adulterated more than 185,000 people, and taken more than 3,500 lives.

As governments and health organizations clutter to accommodate the spread of coronavirus, they need all the help they can get, including from bogus intelligence. Though accepted AI technologies are far from replicating human intelligence, they are proving to be very accessible in tracking the outbreak, diagnosing patients, disinfecting areas, and dispatch up the action of award a cure for COVID-19.

Data science and apparatus acquirements might be two of the most able weapons we have in the fight adjoin the coronavirus outbreak.

Tracking the coronavirus beginning with apparatus learning

Just before the turn of the year, BlueDot, an bogus intelligence belvedere that tracks communicable diseases around the world, flagged a array of “unusual pneumonia” cases accident around a market in Wuhan, China. Nine days later, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement declaring the analysis of a “novel coronavirus” in a ailing person with pneumonia in Wuhan.

BlueDot uses natural accent processing and machine acquirements algorithms to peruse advice from hundreds of sources for early signs of communicable epidemics. The AI looks at statements from health organizations, bartering flights, livestock health reports, altitude data from satellites, and news reports. With so much data being generated on coronavirus every day, the AI algorithms can help home in on the bits that can accommodate pertinent advice on the spread of the virus. It can also find important correlations amid data points, such as the movement patterns of the people who are living in the areas most afflicted by the virus.

The aggregation also employs dozens of experts who specialize in a range of disciplines including geographic advice systems, spatial analytics, data visualization, computer sciences, as well as medical experts in analytic communicable diseases, travel and close medicine, and public health. The experts review the advice that has been flagged by the AI and send out letters on their findings.

Combined with the abetment of human experts, BlueDot’s AI can not only adumbrate the start of an epidemic, but also anticipation how it will spread. In the case of COVID-19, the AI auspiciously articular the cities where the virus would be transferred to after it alike in Wuhan. Apparatus acquirements algorithms belief travel patterns were able to adumbrate where the people who had apprenticed coronavirus were likely to travel.

Using computer vision to detect coronavirus infection

coronavirus COVID-19
Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Image source: NIAID )

You have apparently seen the COVID-19 screenings at border crossings and airports. Health admiral use thermometer guns and visually check travelers for signs of fever, coughing, and breath difficulties.

Now, computer vision algorithms can accomplish the same at large scale. An AI system developed by Chinese tech giant Baidu uses cameras able with computer vision and bittersweet sensors to adumbrate people’s temperatures in public areas. The system can screen up to 200 people per minute and detect their temperature within a range of 0.5 degrees Celsius. The AI flags anyone who has a temperature above 37.3 degrees. The technology is now in use in Beijing’s Qinghe Railway Station.

Alibaba, addition Chinese tech giant, has developed an AI system that can detect coronavirus in chest CT scans. According to the advisers who developed the system, the AI has a 96-percent accuracy. The AI was accomplished on data from 5,000 coronavirus cases and can accomplish the test in 20 abnormal as adjoin to the 15 account it takes a human expert to analyze patients. It can also tell the aberration amid coronavirus and accustomed viral pneumonia. The algorithm can give a boost to the medical centers that are already under a lot of burden to screen patients for COVID-19 infection. The system is reportedly being adopted in 100 hospitals in China.

A abstracted AI developed by advisers from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan EndoAngel Medical Technology Company, and the China University of Geosciences purportedly shows 95-percent accurateness on audition COVID-19 in chest CT scans. The system is a deep acquirements algorithm trained on 45,000 anonymized CT scans. According to a album paper published on medRxiv, the AI’s achievement is commensurable to expert radiologists.

Robots at the frontlines of the fight adjoin COVID-19

One of the main ways to anticipate the spread of the novel coronavirus is to reduce acquaintance amid adulterated patients and people who have not apprenticed the virus. To this end, several companies and organizations have affianced in efforts to automate some of the procedures that ahead appropriate health workers and medical staff to collaborate with patients.

Chinese firms are using drones and robots to accomplish contactless commitment and to spray disinfectants in public areas to abbreviate the risk of cross-infection. Other robots are blockage people for fever and other COVID-19 affection and dispensing free hand sanitizer foam and gel.

Inside hospitals, robots are carrying food and anesthetic to patients and disinfecting their rooms to anticipate the need for the attendance of nurses. Other robots are busy affable rice after human supervision, abbreviation the number of staff appropriate to run the facility.

In Seattle, doctors used a robot to acquaint with and treat patients accidentally to abbreviate acknowledgment of medical staff to adulterated people.

AI is dispatch up drug research

At the end of the day, the war on the novel coronavirus is not over until we advance a vaccine that can immunize anybody adjoin the virus. But developing new drugs and anesthetic is a very diffuse and costly process. It can cost more than a billion dollars and take up to 12 years. That’s the kind of timeframe we don’t have as the virus continues to spread at an accelerating pace.

Fortunately, AI can help speed up the process. DeepMind, the AI analysis lab acquired by Google in 2014, afresh declared that it has used deep acquirements to find new advice about the anatomy of proteins associated with COVID-19. This is a action that could have taken many more months.

Understanding protein structures can accommodate important clues to the coronavirus vaccine formula. DeepMind is one of several organizations who are affianced in the race to unlock the coronavirus vaccine. It has leveraged the result of decades of apparatus acquirements advance as well as analysis on protein folding.

“It’s important to note that our anatomy anticipation system is still in development and we can’t be assertive of the accurateness of the structures we are providing, although we are assured that the system is more authentic than our beforehand CASP13 system,” DeepMind’s advisers wrote on the AI lab’s website. “We accepted that our system provided an authentic anticipation for the experimentally bent SARS-CoV-2 spike protein anatomy shared in the Protein Data Bank, and this gave us aplomb that our model predictions on other proteins may be useful.”

Although it’s too early to tell whether we’re headed in the right direction, the efforts are commendable. Every day saved in award the coronavirus vaccine can save hundreds—or thousands—of lives.

Published March 21, 2020 — 17:00 UTC

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