How AI is Helping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A robot showing its right arm

Spiralling out from its epicentre in Wuhan, China, the novel Coronavirus has now reached virtually every part of the world, taking in its grip over 21 lakh people and causing more than 1 lakh deaths. As a result, several governments have imposed strict lockdown measures to facilitate social distancing and break the chain of transmission. This has brought the economy to a screeching halt, even as the medical community and pharmaceutical sector rush to find a cure or vaccine to stop the virus in its tracks.

During what is proving to the most challenging crisis of the 21st century, artificial intelligence has emerged as humanity’s ace card in putting up a winning fight against this pandemic. AI applications such as data analytics, deep learning, machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) are proving to be of critical importance in diagnosis, vaccine development as well as contact tracing. To know about AI applications, click here. Meanwhile, here are some top examples of AI being leveraged to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic:

Disease Surveillance

In case of a highly contagious disease such as COVID-19, surveillance of human activity is critical for drawing up a risk profile and consequent healthcare plans. BlueDot, a Canada-based startup, has leveraged NLP and ML to recognize, track and report the virus spread more efficiently than even the WHO.

Diagnostics

Early and accurate diagnosis is the key to curb the spread of this virus. Beijing-based LinkingMed has leveraged the power of diagnostics AI through as open-source model for COVID-19 diagnosis, especially for predicting the risk of pneumonia – a common complication of the infection – with 92% accuracy.

Fever Detection

Use of thermal cameras to detect fever in humans isn’t new. However, this approach requires human intervention, which increases the risk of the infection being spread. Kogniz, an ML and physical security innovator, has launched cameras equipped with AI-powered multi-sensory tech capable of detecting whether a person has a fever and recognise their faces even through a mask. These cameras have been deployed at hospitals, airports etc to identify and track people with spiked body temperature levels.

Curative Research

No cure in sight has been the most disconcerting aspects of the novel Coronavirus spread so far. AI is proving to be a game-changer in this area as well. Google’s AI wing, DeepMind, for instance, has been leveraging the AlphaFold system to replicate the protein structure models of the virus to help the scientific community understand it better.

Ensuring Social Distancing

In many countries across the world, drones and bots are being deployed to ensure compliance with the social distancing and lockdown norms in place. In some areas, drones are also tracking individuals for violating guidelines such as wearing masks in public. Besides, these AI-powered tools are also coming in handy to disinfect public areas as well as disseminate information regarding risks and prevention.

Even as we grapple with a crisis without a parallel in recent history, AI solutions for different sectors are stirring some much-needed hope about there being a light at the end of this dark tunnel.

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