Coronavirus: How Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Technology Is Used To Fight Pandemics

15 Apr. 20

Coronavirus or COVID-19 has spread like wildfire throughout the world. It seems like an occurrence of a few days ago when we heard reports about the first case of the virus in Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries throughout the world and has been declared a global pandemic.

With the number of cases and deaths continuing to rise, it has become crucial to deal with the situation efficiently, without overpressuring the existing medical infrastructure. When China was initially dealing with the virus, it endeavored to make full use of its technology sector along with artificial intelligence to fight the pandemic. The focus of the country was to ensure that data science, artificial intelligence, and technology be used together for tracking and fighting the pandemic. Leading names of the technology sector, including Huawei, Baidu, and Alibaba, enhanced the healthcare initiatives of their companies.

Consequently, it is seen that tech startups are working alongside academics, clinicians, and government entities so that technology can be activated for containing the Covid pandemic. Let us shed some light on how artificial intelligence can be used for fighting COVID-19 transmission and limiting its impact throughout the world.

Artificial Intelligence for identifying, tracking and forecasting outbreaks

Governments throughout the world are encouraging their citizens to stay indoors as much as possible. Social distancing is being considered the sole way of containing the pandemic. It is vital that people who are tested positive for the virus are isolated at the earliest. At the same time, their movements need to be tracked so that all the people he has met with can be quarantined.

It is apparent that tracking the virus is pivotal for fighting it. Artificial intelligence can learn to detect outbreaks by analyzing the social media platforms, government documents, and news reports. A Canadian startup, BlueDot, provides the service of using Artificial intelligence to track infectious disease risk. Indeed, the AI of the company had warned of the threat much before public warnings were issued by the World health organization and Centers for disease control and prevention.

Artificial Intelligence to help diagnose the virus

A coronavirus AI solution has been launched by Infervision, an artificial intelligence company. The purpose of this solution is to make sure that healthcare workers are provided with assistance in detecting and monitoring the disease. The virus has increased the workload of the healthcare sector significantly.

Now and then, you get to hear about supplies running out and medical care being compromised. At times like these, we need all the help that we can get. Imaging departments of healthcare facilities are overburdened with testing the patients of this virus. The solution can make things somewhat easy for them. It does so by improving the diagnosis speed of CT. an AI-powered diagnosis system has also been built by Alibaba, which as per their claims, can diagnose the virus in a matter of a few seconds with 96% accuracy.

Processing healthcare claims

Apart from the clinical side of healthcare systems, other departments also have to deal with excessive workload and thus include the business and administrative divisions as well. The surge of patients has made the organization quite tricky. The thing that needs to be kept in mind is that if all divisions are unable to work with coordination, patient care is going to be compromised, which is not something we can afford during this pandemic.

Ant Financial has offered a blockchain platform for speeding up claims processing and reducing the face-to-face interaction between the hospital staff and patients at the same time. This not only makes sure that the whole operation runs smoothly but also minimizes the risk of the spread of the virus.

Delivery of medical supplies

Delivering medical supplies has been quite challenging as the outbreak of the virus continues to deplete the hospital supplies of most areas. Medical supplies are needed at the earliest to make sure that patient care is not compromised.

One practical and fast method of delivering medical supplies during this pandemic is using drone delivery. This has multiple benefits. For one thing, it would take less time. Furthermore, it would also reduce the number of people needed on the job, thereby ensuring that social distancing does not become a problem.

Terra Drone is one of the companies that are using their aerial vehicles for transporting medical supplies along with other quarantine material between Xinchang County’s disease control centre and the People’s Hospital. This method makes sure that minimal risk is involved in the delivery of medical supplies, and no delays occur.
Drones can also be used for patrolling public spaces to make sure that people are following the rule of social distancing. Drones make it easier to detect noncompliance with the rules of quarantine. Screening can also become a whole lot more feasible as drones can be used for thermal imaging.

Optimal protection

Companies are also trying to make sure that healthcare workers are provided with optimal protection as they treat the patients. Sonovia, an Israeli startup, is trying to do its bit by making masks from their anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric. This fabric uses metal-oxide nanoparticles and thus can play a crucial role in the protection of the healthcare workers.

Performing certain tasks

The exposure of healthcare providers to the patients of the virus has been a cause of significant concern. With the limited number of PPEs available, it becomes even more challenging to make sure that the patients are provided with food and other necessities without fail. Robots can be quite helpful in this case.

The virus cannot affect robots, and thus they can be used for completing various tasks involving patient care without any stress. Robots can be used to clean and sterilize the quarantine area and deliver food and medicine to the patients. This limits human-to-human interaction and contact and thus can play a role in restricting the spread of the virus.

Blue Ocean Robotics is using its UVD robots for killing bacteria and viruses using ultraviolet light. Similarly, Pudu technology in China is using robots from the catering industry in multiple hospitals across the country.

Developing drugs

The focus of the whole world is on controlling this pandemic and limiting its spread. However, attention also needs to be given to finding the treatment of the virus. The DeepMind Division of Google is using its AI algorithms to determine the proteins making up the virus. The findings are being published so that treatments can be developed.

Furthermore, BenevolentAI that makes use of AI systems for fighting some of the toughest diseases in the world has extended its support and is trying to find out ways of treating the virus. This is the first time that the company is working and using its resources to fight infectious diseases. The artificial intelligence of the company proposed existing drugs that can be of help in fighting the disease within a few weeks of the outbreak.

Dealing with non-compliance

Despite the increasing number of deaths due to the virus, a lot of people still do not seem to be taking it seriously. A significant challenge for all governments throughout the world has been to make sure that people remain compliant.

China used its sophisticated surveillance system consisting of facial recognition technology along with temperature detection software for identifying people running a fever and at risk of having the virus. The problem is that not all carriers of the virus are symptomatic. Artificial intelligence can be beneficial in tracking the silent carriers who have been a major source of the spread of the virus.

Officials in Sichuan province used similar technology in the form of smart helmets so that they would identify the people having a fever. A monitoring system, Health Code, has also been developed by the Chinese government. The system uses vast data for assessing the risk a person has for contracting a virus based on his travel history, time spent in a virus hotspot, and the time he spent with people having the virus. Color codes have been assigned to the citizens, including red, yellow, and green. They can use popular apps like WeChat to determine if they can be allowed to roam out in public or should be quarantined.

Sharing information

With healthcare systems majorly occupied with dealing with the patients of coronavirus, people are being requested to refrain from heading to a hospital unless there is an emergency. It has been a significant concern for people as to how they can get health consults for other problems.

WeChat, operated by Tencent, allows people to access health consultation services without any charge. Chatbots already have all the required communication tools as they are majorly used in the tourism industry for keeping the travelers up to date with the procedures and disruptions in their trips. This technology can now be used in the healthcare sector, as well.

Developing a Covid-19 vaccine

The computing resources and artificial intelligence solutions of major companies have joined hands to find out a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. These systems can get done with calculations faster, and thus the process of research can be sped up.

It is vital to use all the available resources in the best way possible to deal with this global pandemic. Artificial intelligence and technology can change things for the better. As a result, tech startups are integrally involved in triggering technologies for doctors, researchers, and government agencies across the globe as the pandemic continues to spread to many other nations.


Lets Nurture
Posted by Lets Nurture


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