COVID-19 has become a global public health emergency, having grown even bigger than the SARS outbreak a few years ago. This time, though, scientists, researchers, doctors and healthcare experts have new technologies, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, to defeat the virus. They also have the option to perform predictive analysis and use the insights from it to understand and monitor the epidemic. In this article, we will focus on the use of new technologies like AI and ML for the prevention or reduction of COVID-19.
Why is the coronavirus so dangerous?
The coronavirus strain can cause multiple health issues. Ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), it can definitely be life-threatening. What makes the coronavirus all the scarier is that this is the first time we have identified this family of virus attacking humans, and it can easily spread from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or merely touching hands.
The latest technology has made it easier for the world to solve the mysteries of diseases. Technology may not be able to save people from getting a disease, but it helps us understand the disease, the reasons behind it and possible ways to prevent it. It used to take a lot of time to sequence any virus's genome, even back when SARS hit. But now, with the help of AI and ML, we can quickly sequence a virus's genome. In fact, in the case of the novel coronavirus, scientists took only a month to identify the sequence of the genome. The first issue was reported in December 2019, and the scientists had the genome sequence in January.
Experts are also using technology to track the spread of disease. Many mapping tools were used for earlier diseases, but the mapping process has become quicker and more efficient than before. Microsoft Bing has already launched a real-time map of the spread of COVID-19. It exhibits the necessary stats related to the several confirmed cases internationally, even showing reported deaths by country. Experts can get several useful insights from this data.
The mapping also helps officials to implement travel restrictions if required. They are also in a position to allocate healthcare IT services wherever necessary. However, a lot of data has to be collected and processed in order to get so much useful information. Big data experts will also need information related to airline traffic patterns. At the same time, you need to have all the latest details about the onset and spread of the virus, and to be aware of the latest findings related to transmission of the disease. You will have to keep a close eye on the number of new diseases and the increasing attack of the virus. Thus, big data and machine learning will both be used extensively for mapping purposes.
The role of AI and more about predictive analysis
Many AI and ML companies, especially ones that deal in healthcare, are looking forward to building a strong prediction tool for the coronavirus. In fact, some companies have come up with tools to help healthcare professionals detect the warning signs of the virus. BlueDot, a firm that specializes in surveillance of contagious illnesses, has made an efficient tool based on AI and ML, which is used to carefully and efficiently predict the outbreak of the virus.
Basically, the tool works by researching and collecting a huge amount of information. By processing the many data sets, the tool can come up with valuable predictive insights. The data is collected from various sources, like websites, social media, news articles and government reports. The tool also helps identify the areas that should be no-travel zones because of the spread of the virus.
Apart from this, there are other AI and ML tools that can identify places where the virus might hit soon. Based on the predictions, health professionals can devise ways to tackle the possible spread of the disease. This can also help healthcare professionals and institutes prepare for the treatment of patients.
In fact, one of the professionals at Humboldt University is also making predictions on the coronavirus outbreak. His data includes a lot of useful information like the transmission risk and a lot of other details. Professionals like him are now ready to provide their data and input for wide-scale predictions. There is no doubt that predictive analysis plays a major role in reducing the outbreak and effects of the virus on the world.
Robots serving coronavirus patients
China has already started using AI-powered robots for coronavirus patients in some hospitals. The robots, which are capable of disinfecting themselves, were initially delivering medicines and doing other chores, like changing the bed sheets. As robots are much faster and efficient than the human workforce, the hospitals were able to care for more patients in less time with their help. The adoption of robots reduced the pressure on human nurses and eradicated the possibility of cross-infection. As the country is reporting cases of medical professionals getting the disease, it was important to use something that can't catch the infection.
Many healthcare organizations have been using AI and ML tools for years, and now, many of these tools will be used to reduce the harmful effects of the coronavirus. With so much data available, processing it to churn out valuable predictions and insights is far easier with AI and ML. All the useful information will eventually help to stop the outbreak of the disease, which is exactly what the world wants at the moment.