In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, researchers have found a breakthrough in controlling the epidemic, that too using artificial intelligence.
The spread of the virus is a fluid situation at present that has disrupted the lives of people across the globe. The novel respiratory illness, also known as COVID-19, has spread across 58 countries and has infected more than 90,000 people globally. There is panic everywhere with people locking themselves in their houses, wearing masks, bathing themselves in sanitizers.
Global leaders fear that the outbreak could cut global economic growth in half with the World Health Organization declaring Coronavirus as a pandemic.
In the middle of all the mayhem, it appears that artificial intelligence may help fight the outbreak and its economic impact.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
So, what is Artificial Intelligence – Artificial intelligence or AI is a wide-ranging division of computer science that is concerned with developing smart machines and devices adept in performing tasks that essentially requires human intelligence. It is an interdisciplinary science with multiple approaches. And thanks to the advancement in deep learning and machine learning technologies that are creating a paradigm shift in practically every industry and sector, including medicine.
At its core, artificial intelligence tries to answer the question “can machines think” in the affirmative. AI is the endeavor to stimulate or replicate human intelligence in machines. And lately, global researchers have turned to AI and machine learning solutions to detect and curb the outbreak of Coronavirus.
Fever Detection in Public Places
One of the ways artificial intelligence is detecting Coronavirus is using a camera equipped with thermal sensors. Public health facilities and hospitals in Singapore are executing real-time temperature checks on people. A startup named Kronikare has created an AI system that helps detect the virus using a thermal sensor and a smartphone.
On the other hand, Baidu, a Chinese tech company, has developed an AI system that uses an infrared sensor and artificial intelligence for predicting people’s temperatures. The system has now been installed at Beijing’s Qinghe Railway Station.
The company was able to design a system that combines infrared and computer vision to sense the forehead temperature of about 200 individuals per minute within 0.5° Celsius. The system is designed to notify the authorities if it identifies an individual with forehead temperature above 37.3° Celsius, as fever or high body temperature is the first sign of Coronavirus. Considering the success of the system, Baidu may install the machine in Line 4 of the Beijing Subway and Beijing South Railway Station.
Apart from Baidu and Kronikare, Shenzhen MicroMultiCopter has deployed over 100 AI-enabled drones that are capable of thermal sensing along with spraying disinfectants and sanitizers and patrolling public places.
UVD Robots, a Danish Company, partnered with Sunay Healthcare Supply for distributing its robots in coronavirus-stricken China. The robots wander around hospitals and public healthcare facilities in China dispersing Ultra-Violet lights for sanitizing rooms contaminated with Coronavirus and other germs and bacteria.
In Guangzhou, XAG robots is also deploying disinfectant-spraying drones and robots powered by artificial intelligence.
Since WHO has declared Coronavirus a pandemic, experts believe that more AI-powered drones and robots need to be deployed in more environments apart from healthcare facilities.
Using robots limit the exposure of service and medical industry staff from coming into contact with the virus, hence curbing the outbreak.
BlueDot, a Canadian startup detected Coronavirus before everyone else, including WHO. The artificial intelligence platform noticed a plethora of ‘unusual pneumonia’ cases occurring around Wuhan in China.
The company had spotted what would have come to be called as Coronavirus, nine days prior WHO released its statement warning of the emergence of a novel disease.
BlueDot was established in response to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic. Its AI platform uses NLP (natural language processing) to scan the texts of thousands of sources to search public statements and news about the health of people and animals. BlueDot is a patented software-as-a-service (SaaS) created to track, trace, and hypothesize infectious disease spread.
A company named Metabiota that works with the United States Department of Defense makes evaluations about the risk of a disease spreading. The company uses AI technology to monitor a system that makes predictions on factors like disease’s mortality rate, symptoms, and the availability of treatment.
As per the 40-page WHO-China Mission Report, which was released last month, it mentions how China used artificial intelligence and big data as part of its response to the virus. Use cases include the implementation of artificial intelligence for contact tracing in order to monitor the spread of the virus, as well as the management of priority populations.
However, health professionals and researchers are working on producing other forms of AI. Recently, researchers from the China University of Geosciences, Wuhan EndoAngel Medical Technology Company, and Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University shared their work on deep learning that identified Coronavirus with 95% accuracy.
The deep learning model they designed is trained with 45,000 anonymous CT scan images along with CT scans of 51 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus patients.
It showed performance as good as expert radiologists with 95% accuracy and has improved the efficiency of health professionals in clinical practices. The deep learning model can help improve early diagnosis, quarantine, and treatment, therefore, contributing to the control of the pandemic.
According to researchers, the model can reduce the confirmation time taken by CT scans up to 67%.
A new system has been developed in China that is capable of predicting survival for patients with more than 90% accuracy. Experts at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China and School of Artificial Intelligence and Automation have designed this system.
The survival estimation could be drawn from lab or clinical results. However, the researchers are still working on the system to make it more efficient since the results are only related to high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), lymphocyte, and lactic dehydrogenase (LDH).
Artificial intelligence is playing a crucial role across the globe in detecting and curbing the spread of coronavirus disease. With proper technology and resources, it can be implemented across the healthcare industry for different purposes.