How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Coronavirus – Forbes
Team of Research Scientists Working On Computer, with Medical Equipment, Analyzing Blood and Genetic … [+]
Imagine a typical Tuesday morning. You park your car in the nearby Costco’s parking lot. The lot is full, with vehicles parked nose to nose. You wait in a long line, similar to what you would see at Disney on a typical weekend. When you finally get inside, you see rows upon rows of empty shelves. You maneuver your shopping cart around frenzied shoppers, only to find that Costco is out of face masks, nonperishable items, medications, hand sanitizers, and hand soaps.
The reason for this newfound global love of hand sanitizers and masks? The fear and panic as the coronavirus (known as ‘2019-nCov’ or ‘Covid-19) spreads globally.
As of March 3rd, 2020, Covid-19 had taken the lives of 3,168, as well as bringing more than 92,880 documented cases of infected people across at least 79 countries, including the United States and United Kingdom. This makes the coronavirus’ total death toll more than that of its ‘cousin’ SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus in 2003 (774 total deaths) and ‘bird flu’ in 2013 (616 total deaths).
Experts have warned us that face masks do not help stop the spread of Covid-19. However, what is helpful are advancements in artificial intelligence and genetic technology.
Artificial intelligence and genetic applied science are making it easier, faster, and cheaper to understand how the virus spreads, how to manage it, and how to contain its devastating effects.
A.I. May Be Able To Predict Epidemics
Artificial Intelligence, or more commonly known as A.I., can warn of an upcoming epidemic and give us enough time to prepare.
For example, BlueDot, a global artificial intelligence database company, uses A.I.-powered algorithm, machine learning, and natural-language processing to analyze information from a multitude of sources and track over a hundred infectious diseases.
On December 31st, 2019 Blue Dot sent out a warning to its customers to avoid Wuhan, ahead of both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) To contrast that, the World Health Organization (WHO) did not send out a notice until January 9th, 2020.
Earlier this month, BlueDot predicted where other Asian city outbreaks could be by analyzing traveler itineraries and flight paths.
In the future, A.I. could even use social media data to predict human behavior and potential outbreaks.
A.I. Can Speed Up Drug Discovery and Development
A.I. is not only able to warn us of an impending epidemic, but it can help us identify, develop, and scale new treatments and vaccines faster than ever before.
The key to developing a vaccine is to be able to rapidly and efficiently recreate the virus’s genome sequence and build a copy of the virus.
In just one month, scientists in China recreated the genome sequence of the virus. To compare how extraordinary that is, it took scientists several months to recreate the genome sequence of the SAR’s virus in 2003. Not only that, researchers in Australia created a lab-grown copy of the virus from an infected patient.
Having an accurate genome sequence and an exact replica of the virus copy, we can then quickly develop and validate diagnostic tests for the virus. We now have one vaccine candidate entering clinical trials within three months.
Furthermore, Longevity Vision Fund, founded by longevity investor and visionary Sergey Young, one of the few global life extension-focused funds, along with an army of biotech companies and entrepreneurs, are at the forefront to collaborate and fast-track the development of treatment.
For example, one of Longevity Vision Fund’s portfolio company Insilico Medicine was able to use its A.I. system to successfully identify thousands of molecules for potential medications in just four days. Insilico Medicine then initiated an open policy, and published the updated findings on its website so all researchers could download the data for free, ultimately contributing to the global effort to combat the epidemic. Imagine what we can do with that kind of speed, scalability, and free collaboration!
A.I. May Help Minimize Fatality and Optimize Disease Management
Lastly, A.I. can help manage the outbreak and minimize fatalities by decreasing the burden on the healthcare professionals and reminding patients on proper care procedures.
Physicians, nurses, and hospital staff are at high risk of Covid-19 exposure and contraction. To date, thousands of hospital staff in China have been infected with the virus. A.I. can help alleviate that burden. For example, China is using robots to provide faster diagnostic checks, and Hangzhou city ambulances are assisted by A.I. to speed through traffic.
A.I. can also help remind us of what we should do in case we have contracted the virus. China launched an app that helps people check if they have taken a flight or train with a confirmed coronavirus patient. At the same time, China is using drones to ensure residents are taking the appropriate precautions.
Although Covid-19’s rapid spread globally is scary, it gives us a ray of hope knowing the awe-inspiring, boundary-breaking, cross-collaboration of our healthcare leaders, politicians, and public servants.
We must take the time to pay tribute and appreciation to the front-line healthcare workers, to the scientists sharing and collaborating cross-culturally and to the public servants hard at work mitigating the epidemic path. So, here’s to all those fighting the disease, and to our ultimate conquering of the Covid-19.