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How AI is helping the world overcome the COVID-19 pandemic

Artificial Intelligence (AI), a core technology of the fourth industrial revolution, takes advantage of computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making skills of the human mind. Initially, AI was designed to resolve simpler issues like winning a chess game, language recognition, and image retrieval, among others. With advancements in technology, AI is increasingly proficient at doing what people do, but more efficiently, quickly, and at a lower cost in addressing complex issues.

Soon after the Covid-19 hit the world, the World Health Organization signalled that AI could be leveraged to manage the crisis caused by the virus. And today, a multitude of AI-powered projects based on data science, ‘machine learning’ or ‘big data’, are being used across a wide range of fields to predict, explain, and manage the different scenarios.

AI in the management of COVID-19 

Big data and AI are assisting in unprecedented speed with which efforts to combat the COVID-19 epidemic are being made. AI can be quite useful In the fight against COVID-19. 

AI is utilised successfully in the identification of illness clusters, case tracking, outbreak prediction, mortality risk, COVID-19 diagnosis, disease management through resource allocation, aiding training, record keeping, and pattern recognition for analysing disease trends. The following are some of the AI applications that are raising hopes in the fight against COVID-19

AI in detecting outbreaks 

The power of AI can be harnessed for forecasting the spread of viruses and developing early warning systems by extracting information from social media platforms, calls, and news sites. It also provides useful information about the vulnerable regions and for prediction of morbidity and mortality.

According to reports, BlueDot, a Canadian health surveillance business, was one among the first in the world to precisely identify the spread of COVID-19 and its risk. The company’s AI algorithms found a cluster of odd pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, in late December, 2019, and predicted where the infection will spread next.

AI in contact tracing

In the fight against infectious diseases like COVID-19, contact tracing is a critical public health strategy. AI can be used in mobile health applications where smart devices like  watches, mobile phones, cameras and a range of wearable devices can be employed for diagnosis, contact tracing, and efficient monitoring.  

AI in monitoring

AI techniques are used to monitor patients and to anticipate course of treatment in clinical contexts. As per the data from clinical factors and vital statistics, AI can give essential information for resource allocation and decision-making by prioritising the requirement for ventilators and respiratory assistance in the ICU. In COVID-19, it may also be utilised to predict recovery or mortality, as well as provide daily updates, storage and trend analysis, and therapeutic tracking.

AI in early diagnosis 

Machine Learning (ML), an intelligent subset of AI,has the capacity to provide data-driven clinical decision support to hospitals. AI, for example, uses ML to develop technologies that aid pathologists in making accurate diagnoses. 

CT scans, X-rays, and MRI equipment can all benefit from AI to provide more accurate and comprehensive images. Diagnosing a case of COVID-19-related pneumonia using an X-ray and CT scan could potentially reduce the time it takes to diagnose and improve therapy.

AI in telemedicine

AI in telemedicine can also be utilised to avoid the need for frequent and unnecessary hospital visits by remotely monitoring cases and capturing patient data. Medical chatbots powered by AI can also be used for consultations. 

AI is used by several chatbots that examine patients to identify symptoms, connect them to possible ailments, and map the chance of a positive outcome. Thousands of pieces of medical literature are fed into the computer systems, and models are trained to comprehend which symptoms correspond to certain illnesses.

AI in the development of vaccines 

ML was employed by scientists producing Covid-19 vaccines in the early phases of the epidemic. It enabled them to process massive amounts of data and detect patterns in them in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

It aided scientists in determining which portions of the virus were likely to activate an immune response that would protect them against infection while developing vaccinations.

Similarly, it discovered which compounds could be successful at blocking the virus from multiplying in medication development. AI has also been useful in evaluating the prognosis of patients with Covid-19 and determining how patients could respond to existing medicines, among other things.

To sum up, the role of AI in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is inevitable. However, once the pandemic is over, AI will play a larger role in healthcare systems around the world in the years ahead.

AI has been confirmed as a critical non-medical intervention for overcoming the current global health crisis, developing next-generation pandemic preparedness, and moving toward a resilient recovery.

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