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Use of Artificial Intelligence in Coronavirus

Artificial Intelligence in Coronavirus

ICT | Apr, 2020

As of 1st April 2020, Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to more than 192 countries and territories around the world with a total number of 858,832 cases and 42,158 deaths around the world. Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China in December 2019, there have been researches going on to identify the effects of the new virus on human health, possible treatments, and the vital results of the ongoing pandemic. Although, coronavirus outbreak unfolded too quickly for scientists to find a cure but in the future, artificial intelligence can help in controlling such outbreaks. The use of artificial intelligence or AI can help the researchers to determine what kinds of treatment is required to cope with the virus or which experiments to pursue next in order to treat COVID-19.

Until 1st April 2020, US and China are known to have 188,578 and 81,518 cases of coronavirus, respectively. The technology leaders in China like Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei are working with the government agencies to handle and prevent the spread of the virus in the country. Alibaba has recently claimed that its new AI system has an efficiency of 96% in detecting coronavirus via CT scans of patient chests. Their new algorithm cuts down the whole process of recognition to a record 20 seconds. This is a vast improvement as the traditional methods usually take approximately 15 min to analyse a CT scan of a patient chest. They are using specific applications like CT Image Analytics Solutions in mass testing, which is enabling the health experts to test greater number of patients in a shorter span of time. The country is also using AI-based mathematical modelling, which is used for predicting the probability of different pneumonia types. Techniques like lung segmentation methods, helps to identify the exact region of infection for assessment, which is almost 60 times faster than human detection and can assist in identifying patients affected by the novel virus.

Meanwhile, Baidu’s AI team has released a tool known as LinearFold to reduce novel COVID prediction time from 55 minutes to 27 seconds. This cut down of prediction time is proving to be crucial in understanding the virus and helping in catalysing the drug discovery. Baidu is also using specific AI technologies like the ‘Computer Vision’ algorithms that allow computers to understand and label images with the infrared sensors. These algorithms are put in use for creating people’s temperature profiles in few seconds in public areas like airports, railway stations, among others. Above mentioned steps taken by the technology leaders help to detect the virus in the shortest time possible and prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

The governments across the globe are working in collaboration with local authorities to track, control and prevent the spread of disease caused by the pandemic. AI is being increasingly used coupled with other healthcare technologies and can be incorporated in following ways to limit the spread of new diseases and pathogens:

1.      Predicting the Pathogen in Advance:

As people continue to interact with animals, there are chances for pathogens like viruses that originate from animals such as COVID-19, SARS, etc., could come in contact with humans and spread. The estimates suggest that 3 out of 4 new diseases in humans these days come from animals, and scientists believe there are approximately 800,000 unknown animal viruses that could infect humans. The researchers are taking help of AI to identify hotspots where new diseases could emerge. AI technology can assimilate data about known viruses, bacteria, animal population around the world to predict such outbreaks in advance.

2.      Early Detection of Pathogen:

Novel viruses like COVID-19, HANTA, etc., get transmitted to humans very quickly and time becomes a major factor in controlling such transmissions. Early diagnosis of such disease outbreaks can aid in their control. With the help of AI, quick detection can be made possible as AI provides better detection of such diseases.

3.      Response Toward the Outbreak of the Pathogen:

After a pathogen outbreak is identified, making informed decisions in a limited time frame is critical to restrict their impact. AI can keep a track on travel, population and disease data to predict where and how quickly a disease might spread. It can also be used for accelerating the time related to the development of new treatments. Moreover, data collected from other diseases can be used to predict which types of vaccines and medicines are most likely to be effective against the pathogen.

4.      Recovery After the Outbreak of the Pathogen:

After an outbreak is in control or has ended, health organizations along with governments must make decisions about how to prevent or limit such outbreaks in the future. AI can be used to conduct ‘What if’ analysis that will help them in making data-driven decisions, which are likely to be more effective.

According to TechSci Research report “Global Artificial Intelligence as a Service Market By Technology (Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing & Others), By Organization Size (Large Enterprise & SME), By Service Type (Services & Software Tools), By Type of Cloud (Public Cloud, Private Cloud & Hybrid Cloud), By Vertical (BFSI, Healthcare, Retail, IT & Telecom, Government & Others), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2024”, the global artificial intelligence as a service market was valued at $ 2 billion in 2018 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 34% to reach around $ 11.5 billion by 2024 owing to increasing adoption of artificial intelligence to enhance the efficiency in business processes. Organizations are leveraging artificial intelligence for improving productivity and enhanced efficiency at lower cost, which is anticipated to fuel growth of artificial intelligence as a service market over the next five years. Moreover, increasing demand for enhancing user experience while reducing waiting time through automated chats is further likely to propel growth of the market.

Potential Developments:

Artificial intelligence can warn us about an upcoming epidemic and give us enough time to prepare. A global artificial intelligence database company, BlueDot uses AI powered algorithm to keep a track of over a hundred infectious diseases. AI can also use social media data to predict human behavior and potential outbreaks in certain areas.

The key to developing a vaccine is to efficiently recreate or replicate the virus’s genome sequence so that a copy of virus could be built. Within a month, after the outbreak of the virus, scientists in China recreated the genome sequence of the virus with the help of AI. With the creation of an accurate genome sequence and an exact replica of the virus copy, the diagnostic test for the virus identification was developed.

As physicians, nurses, and hospital staff are at high risk of COVID-19 exposure and contraction due to easily communication of virus, China is using robots to provide faster diagnostic checks, and Hangzhou city ambulances are being assisted by AI to speed through traffic.

AI can also help in reminding us of what should be done in case we have contracted the virus. The Chinese have launched an app for their citizens that helps people identify if they have recently travelled with a coronavirus positive patient in a flight or a train. At the same time, China is using drones checks to ensure residents are taking the appropriate precautions and measures to counter coronavirus.

During the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, Artificial intelligence, given with its known boundary-breaking limits and quick results, is being used to manage and fight viral disease in following ways:

Diagnosing Virus: Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers to detect and monitor the disease efficiently.

Processing Healthcare Claims: A blockchain platform powered by AI helps to speed up claims processing and reduces the amount of time and face-to-face interaction between patients and hospital staff.

Medical Supplies through Drones: AI powered drone delivery is one of the fastest ways to supply medicines without human-human interaction during lockdown. Terra Drone, one of the largest drone service providers, is using its unmanned aerial vehicles to transport medical samples and quarantine material in China. Additionally, drones are also useful in patrolling public places and for thermal imaging.

 AI Robot Cleaners: As robots aren’t vulnerable to the virus and cannot transmit virus to humans, therefore, they are being deployed to complete tasks like cleaning and sterilizing and delivering food and medicines during outbreak. In China, Pudu Technology deployed AI robots for providing catering services to more than 40 hospitals in the country.

Drug Development: BenevolentAI, the global leader in the development and application of artificial intelligence for scientific innovations, uses AI systems to build drugs that can fight the world’s toughest diseases and is now making serious efforts to treat coronavirus. In quick succession, after the outbreak, it also used its predictive capabilities to propose existing drugs that might be useful during the pandemic.

Identification of Patients: SenseTime provided a software through which facial recognition and temperature detection has been made possible in order to identify people who might have fever and more likely to carry the virus. Officials in the Sichuan province of China are using smart helmets to identify people with fever. Citizens are assigned color codes like red, yellow, or green, which indicates if they should be quarantined or allowed in public.

AI Chat-bots: Artificial intelligence powered chat-bots can help people to access free online health consultation services. Chatbots also provide accurate information in the travel and tourism industry to keep travellers updated on the latest travel disruptions.


Amidst the global outburst of pandemics such as COVID-19, technology and artificial intelligence are playing crucial role in helping countries to effectively deal with the outbreak of the virus. Moreover, massive use of AI tracking and surveillance tools in context of this outbreak, combined with the current fragmentation in the ethical governance of AI, could pave the way for a wider and more prominent use of these surveillance technologies.

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