Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is being tackled with Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. Global researchers are collaborating on scientific breakthroughs to quickly introduce and test new vaccines, to identify disease development hotspots, and to develop strategies for quarantine disease and prevention with the World Health Organization.
After the outbreak of #coronavirus (COVD-19) in China in December 2019, I have been watching the news closely and listening to speeches about the deadly virus. There’s chaos everywhere, with people wearing masks and others trapped in their homes all day to avoid having the virus. As the factory in the world, there are concerns that the outbreak will adversely affect the Chinese economy. China is a beautiful country with great people, and the new pictures from the country show a dark mood everywhere.
The global death toll is estimated at more than 4368 people with more than 121,061 people infected. Last week, the daily death toll hit the highest rate since the outbreak of 345 people and led to the sacking of Hubei officials. More than 25 countries have reported coronavirus evacuations to protect foreign nationals from infection. Outside China, only Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines have reported deaths each.
The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic that threatens people’s lives. Despite shutdowns from airports, industries and transport all over the world, the Chinese people are struggling and need global help. Quarantine attempts have already begun in Wuhan, where the virus has broken out from the open air market and is now spreading to other parts of China. The rapid transmission of coronavirus from one person to another renders this disease deadly, with current figures showing that about 121,061 people are now ill.
It is evident from these figures that the world needs a fast and safe solution right now to stop the further spread of coronavirus. So what’s the best solution to this health crisis? That is where innovations like #ArtificialIntelligence and #MachineLearning come into action. Analytics has changed the way disease outbreaks are tracked and handled, saving lives. Analytics and big data were embraced by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in their study of coronavirus with hope about seeking a permanent solution.
Overview of Coronavirus
Coronavirus (COVD-19) originates from a family of viruses associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and common cold. Researchers believe coronavirus originates from animals and spreads to humans, after which people infect each other. Species such as bats and snakes consist of viruses that are life-threatening to human health, with researchers suggesting that other species carry various types of viruses which have not yet transmitted to humans. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is another infection of the same origin as coronavirus and presents threats to human health as well.
Popular symptoms of coronavirus according to WHO are as follows:
- Breathing Problems
- Constant Coughing
- High Fever
- Breathing Related Issues Such as Breathing
- Nose and mouth covering during sneezing
- Food cooking as well as meat
- hand washing
- Avoiding contact with infected persons or showing signs
If you are reading this article please click here for Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus from World Health Organization and stay safe.
AI and Data Analytics to track and prevent Coronavirus from occurring
Predictive analytics and big data have become a effective method to tackle deadly disease outbreaks such as coronavirus and SARS.
BlueDot is an AI startup that has developed intelligent systems that calculate people’s data to assess the chances of disease occurring. BlueDot’s AI platform is one of the latest technical advancements using data analytics to monitor and avoid diseases. Something very noteworthy is that BlueDot predicted the SARS pandemic and it turned out to be accurate. The SARS epidemic had catastrophic consequences and killed almost 1,000 people. The Coronavirus outbreak warning on December 2019 is more proof of the effective existence of AI technology. It also happened when the epidemic became reported on February 2nd, 2020.
Natural language processing (NLP) is one tool used by BlueDot to track diseases with the company being successful in detecting diseases around the globe. For example, BlueDot analyzes human languages around the world and uses knowledge to help them predict disease outbreaks. Machine learning is another technology used by BlueDot with algorithms that provide up–knowledge on potential disease occurrences. Nonetheless, BlueDot’s #AI platform saves time and money by providing health practitioners with information on preventive steps. Disease avoidance is also a challenge compared to prediction and, thanks to machine learning software, to health specialists.
Insilico Medicine is another startup focused on the use of analytics in the prevention of disease. Based in Maryland, USA, Insilico Medicine is currently developing technology that will educate physicians about molecules capable of battling coronavirus disease. Insilico Medicine AI system is fast and accurate to have recently analyzed molecules and received feedback on molecules suited to the coronavirus response. The start-up is currently creating a database of molecular knowledge that medical researchers can use in their projects to combat deadly outbreaks, including coronavirus.
Harvard Medical School is committed to seeking solutions for coronavirus by using machine learning technology to analyze data and information from a range of sources, including medical records, social media and public health data. As a result of a natural language processing device, researchers at Harvard Medical School can search online for coronavirus information and identify the current location of the outbreak. For example, NLP helps to differentiate between those who worry about coronavirus symptoms and others who speak about the disease but are not affected. According to the HMS, trends in online media will promote the discovery and promotion of the location of the outbreak.
Research efforts are also being pursued by the University of Southampton in the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus with an agency using AI technology to model data from search engines to map the outbreak. According to the researchers, AI technology lets them understand the trends of coronavirus movements from Wuhan to other parts of China and the rest of the world. Such #machinelearning and #AI technologies have helped researchers predict the virus, its structure and its dissemination methods. As a result, this will allow health professionals to consider the solutions required to prevent further spread of the virus.
Geographic Information Systems
GIS technology has become an effective tool to stop coronavirus spread with John Hopkins University leading the way in this field. For example, the institution has a dashboard showing all coronavirus cases around the world as shown in the diagram below:
Data mining is important for GIS technology to operate as it uses knowledge to identify places where people communicate about the disease. Social networking sites are strong sources of knowledge for GIS, since technology maps the region of interest where people chat about coronavirus. Preventive measures can also be enforced because these heat maps can help monitor both the location and spread of the disease. Ten years ago, it was almost impossible to detect diseases; today, with AI, machine learning and GIS, data mining and knowledge extraction is both easier and more efficient at the position of viruses. The bottom line is that prevention response time is faster today.
World Health Organization Action Plan against Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The WHO is leading efforts to counter the spread of coronavirus, with global experts coming to Switzerland to draw up plans. The WHO’s first goal is to classify the information available on coronavirus to help map the situation and establish practical solutions. Second, the WHO is assessing the gaps in the current epidemic of the virus in order to promote the cooperation needed to avoid further spread.
Coronavirus research support is another important area of focus for the WHO, with the agency calling on governments and organizations to leverage resources for an equal footing. Part of the strategy is to implement steps to avoid further spread of coronavirus in the future. The special meeting called by the WHO will also address vaccines and drug production to avoid outbreaks.
In addition to the funds required to establish solutions to the current epidemic of coronavirus, the WHO supports the sharing of data among researchers, government and business sectors to help fight the disease. According to the WHO, knowledge sharing will ensure that the virus is well known and that the public will join in the fight by following best practices. Collective accountability is another issue addressed at the Geneva meeting with delegates stressing the need for mechanisms and implementation plans to respond to the crisis on time.
How is China doing in the war against Coronavirus?
Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of the technologies used by China to control coronavirus outbreaks. Technology companies in China are designing applications to help people confirm their movements during the outbreak time as a protection measure and to prevent further spread. Train data is an example of passenger screening where applications test the movement and interaction of passengers.
Second, tech companies in China are analyzing passenger flight details in other situations, such as Guangzhou, where AI robots are advising people to wear disease prevention masks. Such efforts show the technical approaches put in place by China in the midst of this crisis. Predictive data analysis is changing the method to outbreak management by providing alerts followed by additional updates.
There is hope for China and for the world at large
Data collection, AI and machine learning have been instrumental in the management of coronavirus outbreaks and, according to WHO, the situation is stabilizing given new infections reported and mortality continues to increase. The WHO warns that it is not early to expect a stabilizing infection, but something needs to be done to eliminate this epidemic. The Chinese Government, in cooperation with WHO and governments around the globe, is working around the clock using technology to tackle the outbreak.