On December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the global pandemic present today: COVID-19 was identified and declared by The World Health Organization (WHO). The novel virus has infected over a million people and within a short span, killed at least 140,000 individuals around the globe.
The loss of lives initiated several governments to impose lockdowns leading to a global economic downfall. The decline in economic activity has caused a recession. The organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has predicted a fall of 2.4% on the economy’s growth rate, leading this pandemic to be one of the most significant challenges help up against humanity.
However, a similar situation had occurred in the year 2004: a viral respiratory illness, known as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). SARS had wiped out $40billion world markets leading to be one of the largest economic impacts in history.
On the frontline, COVID-19 is similar to SARS. However, with the technological advancement that took place over the years, today, a powerful tool is present to challenge and keep the virus within its limit – known as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
AI involves the concepts that reach out to the development of intelligent machines. It implements human intelligence processes that adapt to new information and focuses on learning and problem solving without any human guidance.
The devices and computer systems are based on statistical algorithms and learning processes, providing better accuracy and speed. Today, AI technology is one of the most advanced technologies up to date, used in almost every industry.
AI today has several purposes involving Machine Learning that include Computer Vision applications and Natural Language processing. These can enable monitors to recognize big data patterns and predict the outcomes. With these functions, AI can be used at present to fight against COVID-19.
AI is Applied To Solve This Pandemic In 5 Main Ways:
Surveillance involves the monitoring of activities and behavior by close observation. Currently, surveillance is a necessity and is crucial. The global spread of this virus began through human migration and interaction. It began with over 5 million people leaving Wuhan to other cities and countries before the city’s lockdown, leading more cases across the world.
To track and recognize the spread of the virus, Canada based BlueDot leveraged an AI system that utilizes the functions of AI; natural language processing and machine learning to report the spread of COVID-19 quicker and more accurately.
Besides in comparison to CDC, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, this system is considered to be more efficient and reliable.
This AI system has made it easier for scientists and the world leaders to have an update on the COVID-19 situation in their country and implement the necessary laws to control the situation.
This technology can also be used later in the future to predict zoonotic infection risk to humans caused by other pandemics. Besides, with the combined analysis of individual data; clinical, personal and social data, predictions about an individual’s health can become more accurate.
Drug efficacy is the therapeutic effectiveness of a drug. Recently, Innoplexus AG, a start-up headquartered in Germany founded by Indians, has started to have developed an AI-enabled drug discovery platform that can help in combining existing drugs to uphold the efficacious in treating the infected.
The AI platform supposedly enables one to access the entire data relevant to the drug development of COVID-19. One result has shown up that Chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug can be prescribed for coronavirus and is claimed by the company that there is a possibility of the drug working successfully after combining it with other existing drugs.
An analysis report submitted by the company stating that Chloroquine works in combination with Pegasys, a drug used for Hepatitis C treatment and Remdesivir, another antibiotic. According to the CEO, Gunjan Bharadwaj, the company is hoping to collaborate with clinical trials to test the drug regulators. Further, the WHO has also been monitoring this platform for testing drug regulators to discover a drug for COVID-19.
Medical Images to Spot COVID-19 Infection
DarwinAl, a Canadian start-up, developed a system of neural networks that can detect someone on screen that shows COVID-19 infection. The default for testing the virus is done by using swabs from the patients and later analyzing their chest X-rays. This alternative can be used in hospitals if they lack staff or if they do not have testing kits to test their patients.
This open-source system is known as the COVID-Net, and the developments of the system include a combination of many datasets of X-rays, which today have over 15,000 images and is used by researchers around the world.
It is very efficient, and with this progress, the company has recently started turning the COVID-Net into a more efficient system that can be used by healthcare workers.
On the other hand, DarwinAl is also developing a neural network for those who have already contracted the virus, so that the individual can use this network to recover in self-isolation.
Limiting Human Interaction
The world governments have imposed stay-at-home order, limiting social interaction. However, the quarantine is a way Artificial Intelligence can help fight the virus. Today, using AI technology people can easily order their necessities by not moving an inch.
Alexa is used by the majority to order their groceries. AI has enabled Amazon to start further implementing more neural networks to make Alexa’s voice sound human-like when it translates texts into phrases.
Also, Robots are used in the hospital to replace clinicians, especially while disinfecting room, providing healthcare services and most importantly, while analysing COVID-19 samples.
Recently in Everett, Washington, the first diagnosed COVID-19 patient was treated using a robot. The robot equipped with a stethoscope to note down the patient’s vitals and the doctors could early communicate and see the patient using the large video screen on the robot.
Robots are one of the ways hospitals can use to reduce the virus from spreading. These are some of the ways AI technology helps to reduce COVID-19.
Computer Models to Map Out The Infected Cells
”Coronaviruses invade spike proteins” in our body. However, the spike proteins are different in shape in various Coronaviruses. It is very essential to understand the shape of the spike protein in order to identify the Coronavirus and to target the cell for treatment.
Today, there are million research papers about spike proteins present in the COVID-19 Explorer to help researchers understand and discuss each other’s work in identifying a cure.
The diagrams show the schematic pictures of the ”spike” that is used by the virus known as COVID-19 so it can force itself into the cells to infect. The first diagram from the left presents the molecular key called the RBD of the spike in a down position. While as the middle diagram represents the conformation of the RBD in the up position. Lastly, the third diagram in the right brings in a comparison to show the spike of the SARS virus.
The University of Washington Institute for Protein Design is working now in creating new proteins that can neutralize the COVID-19. The proteins need to bind to the spike protein to prevent any healthy cell in the body to stop getting infected. Scientists are using Artificial technology to help them get closer to identifying the protein to prevent cells in our body from getting infected.
Since the outbreak of this novel COVID-19, researchers are using artificial intelligence to address the challenge of the virus. Today, various methods are used, and projects are implemented to fight this pandemic.