How Artificial Intelligence is helping to Battle the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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The pandemic caused by COVID-19 is the first public health crisis of the 21st century. The world has come to a standstill with the escalation of the virus, followed by social distancing and nationwide lockdown. Even though healthcare recommends social distancing and personal hygiene to stay safe from the pandemic, it can’t be considered as a permanent solution to tackle the present situation.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the globe, companies and researchers are looking to use Artificial Intelligence as a way of addressing the challenges of the virus. We have listed a few ways in which AI has been applied as a measure to battle the pandemic.

AI-Powered Surveillance Systems

AI has become a key weapon in tracking and tracing the cases during this pandemic. Humans are solely responsible, especially migration for the spread of the virus around the world. AI’s surveillance superpowers are helping to break the chains of viral transmission across the globe. For instance, Russia maintains COVID-19 quarantines through large-scale monitoring of citizens with CCTV cameras and facial recognition. Also, leveraging machine learning and natural language processing, Canada based BlueDot is tracking and recognizing the spread of the virus by reporting it quicker than the World Health Organization and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Technologies like this can be used in the near or distant future to predict zoonotic infection risk to humans and other various infectious diseases considering variables such as climate change and human activity. Combining the analysis of clinical, personal, travel, and social data, including the family history and lifestyle habits obtained from different sources like social media data enables more accurate and precise predictions of individual risk profiles and healthcare results. While many concerns exist about the potential of personal violation of civil liberties of individuals and policy regulations that other AI applications have faced will ensure that this technology is used responsibly.

Virtual Healthcare Assistants

The most common application of AI, people have come into contact with today are virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, which rely on natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to understand human speech. Virtual assistants and chatbots enabled by AI can help address the current crisis. Leveraging its natural language processing capabilities AI has built a multi-lingual virtual healthcare agent that answers questions related to COVID-19. It also provides reliable information and clear guidelines, safety measures, check and monitors symptoms, and advises individuals whether they need hospital screening or self-isolation at their homes.

Diagnosis with AI

Making a quick diagnosis is critical to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus. While humans can collect data, it is limited in how fast they can interpret the data. Researches in China claim AI can diagnose COVID-19 from CT scans. A smart image-reading system in China, called Ping An Smart Healthcare, uses Artificial Intelligence to analyze multiple CT scan images of the same patient and measure the changes in lesions. The technology is used to conduct many screenings faster and with greater consistency than human operators. As a result, lots of potential cases were detected quickly, helping stem the spread of coronavirus.

Facial Recognition and Fever Detector AI

Thermal cameras are being used for quite some time now for detecting people with fever. The only drawback to the technology is the need for a human operator. However, currently, the cameras possessing AI-based multisensory technology have been deployed in public areas. This technology can detect individuals automatically that show signs of fever and track their movements, recognize their faces, and detect if the person is wearing a mask.

Drones and Robots

As we all know, social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control method to stay safe from COVID19. Drones and Robots are used to complete many tasks without human intervention during this dreaded crisis. Drones are used to patrol the public spaces to ensure if people are taking proper precautions and stay in compliance with the quarantine mandates. Robots are used in hospitals to mainly to provide patient care without risk to health workers. They are also used for food and medication delivery. Robots also play the role of room cleaning and sterilization of isolation wards.

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