Role of AI in Fighting Covid-19

“The coronavirus is undoubtedly the hottest topic in 2020, and the prevention of the epidemic has become the primary goal of every country. This article will discuss how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help governments and people prevent and control the coronavirus.”

Author: Gloria Zhang| December 02, 2020

The coronavirus is undoubtedly the hottest topic in 2020, and the prevention of the epidemic has become the primary goal of every country. This article will discuss how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help governments and people prevent and control the coronavirus. AI mainly covers the following main areas in the fight against coronavirus: 1.Virtual healthcare assistance, 2. Rapid diagnosis, 3. Detection system, 4. Drug research, 5. Monitoring system, 6. Daily epidemic prevention. In different fields, data annotation industry also has contribution to fighting against Covid-19.

1. Virtual Healthcare Assistance

The number of coronavirus patients is increasing every day, so it is becoming more and more challenging to provide physical care or agency services. AI can be responsible for responding online to questions that do not require professional medical knowledge, taking protective measures, and monitoring suspected cases’ symptoms. The project launched by Microsoft is called AI for Health, and it fully supports research on Covid-19. By providing data resources for experts and researchers and cooperating with research institutes that explore health indicators and assessments. Microsoft and the Washington State Department of Health invented a chat robot that promptly answered basic questions for suspected patients.

2. Rapid Diagnosis

During the virus outbreak, hospital nurses need to manually record the patient’s condition and symptoms. Therefore, it is very time-consuming, and the manually recorded data and human judgment are very prone to errors. However, the emergence of AI can help doctors detect all data related to patient information analysis, and AI can also provide corresponding treatment plans based on these data. For patients with a high risk of infection, rapid diagnosis is strongly required, so that quick measures can be taken to curb the possibility of real-time spread of the virus. CT scan is used as the core diagnostic tool for coronavirus. It can distinguish the difference between coronavirus and common viral pneumonia. The AI-based diagnosis system has significantly improved the accuracy of diagnosis. Most of the viruses nowadays have developed into asymptomatic viruses. Therefore, when an asymptomatic patient comes to the hospital, a quick and accurate diagnosis is incredibly important. Moreover, the artificial intelligence system reduces the burden of medical diagnosis to the greatest extent and shortens the time for virus analysis. For example, the Linearfold algorithm invented by Baidu shortens virus analysis time by 120 times.

3. Detection System

AI also plays a crucial role in disease detection and social distance control. Fever is one of the coronavirus’s main symptoms, so the temperature detector is vital in the public area. Installing a thermal scanner in a public place can easily detect body temperature. When there is a suspected patient with abnormal body temperature, the temperature detector will automatically alarm. Some countries have used artificial intelligence technology to create cameras that can detect whether citizens are wearing masks. The robots that monitor social distancing are equipped with dedicated cameras and LED screens, which warn citizens to maintain social distancing in public places with heavy traffic, thereby assisting in social distancing management and reducing the possibility of virus infection.

4. Vaccine and Medicine Research

Artificial intelligence is also important for investigating vaccines: analyzing virus proteins’ structure to help the research community better understand the virus. Proteins are an essential part of viruses, and each protein is composed of a series of amino acids. Therefore, understanding the 3D shape and structure of a protein is crucial to be aware of its working principle. After scientists understand the structure of the virus in detail, the institute can develop corresponding vaccines based on the protein’s known unique shape. Also, medicinal chemistry produced through machine learning can increase drug production. For example, PostEra’s Covid Moonshot project is a way to increase the number of vaccines against the virus. Medical industry also needs data annotation to recgonize the structure of the proteins, which also helps to develop the vaccine and medicine research.

5. Monitoring System

AI provides the most comprehensive analysis system, and the data is authentic, real-time, and transparent. The global new coronavirus analysis dashboards are updated once an hour. Everyone can constantly track the growth rate of the virus online and the statistics and forecasts of daily confirmed cases and deaths. By monitoring an infected person’s mobile phone location, a research laboratory can easily catch the source of the virus and isolate suspected cases that have been in contact with the patient. The researchers also used machine learning models to analyze protein interaction records and simulate the mutation of virus species to track the virus’s infectivity.

6. Daily Epidemic Prevention

In daily life, AI robots can also replace general labor to complete tasks. Especially during the epidemic, the existence of AI robots reduces the possibility of cross-infection. In many countries, AI robots distribute alcohol hand sanitizer and masks in public. It saves human resources and avoids the situation where the distributors have direct contact with others. More importantly, AI robots can remind people to pay attention to personal hygiene and wear masks.

In addition to the above six aspects, AI has other efforts to combat the new coronavirus. Artificial intelligence and data annotation in the era of technological development undoubtedly provides a lot of conveniences and has become a technology that carries big data and information. The positive effect of data annotation industry is also significant. The rational use of artificial intelligence to fight viruses is our common goal.

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