How Artificial Intelligence is Taking on COVID-19

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is tackling the coronavirus battle in the most ingenious manner. With the escalating number of COVID-19 cases across the globe, healthcare companies and researchers are looking forward to deploying AI to innovative ways to address the outbreak’s challenges. And plausibly enough, AI has been put to beneficial projects given the current situation – providing real-time data, identifying high-risk patients, rapid detection and early treatment, and many more. The scientific community is already echoing high hopes for AI’s innate tendency to confront the coronavirus and play a significant supporting role in fighting the viral pandemic.


Decoding The Structure Of COVID-19

AI is playing a leading role in decoding the structure of the COVID-19 virus. Researchers are deploying AI and COVID-19 data on genomes to predict the virus’s protein structure. This is groundbreaking in identifying and developing drugs that could potentially work against the virus. Dedicated neural networks have already been established to predict how the proteins make up an organism crinkle, essentially based on their genome. These protein structures actually determine the shape of receptors in the organism’s cells. Hence, once the receptors’ shape is known, developing drugs to disrupt the cells’ vital processes becomes a lot easier. In the case of COVID-19, AI facilitates us understanding the virus’s structure, creating drugs to disrupt how it binds to the human cells, or at least slow the reproduction rate.


Similarly, earlier this summer, a supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee called “Summit” processed data from more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand the virus. After a week of processing, the computer revealed a new theory about how coronavirus impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. It also suggested more than 10 potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved.


Find Drugs That Attack The Virus

The most widespread use of AI in the COVID-19 situation has been finding drugs that target the virus itself. Numerous research projects have started to develop drugs that fight the COVID-19 virus, essentially through the study of the molecular setup of existing drugs. AI primarily facilitates biomedical research to find links between genetic and biological properties of different diseases and then compose drug formulations to counter them. However, much more research and human trials will be needed before 100%-successful-rate drugs are widely marketed for mass use. Physicians in the US have already started testing drugs like Baricitinib in effectively treating COVID-19 patients as a part of clinical trials. However, the results are still due.


Early Detection And Diagnosis

AI with EHR System can quickly spot irregular symptoms and analyze any ‘red flags’ to alarm the patients and providers. Delivering valuable information to the healthcare personnel in good time, AI facilitates faster decision-making while being cost-effective at the same time. AI has, hence, helped in developing a new diagnosis and management system for COVID-19 through useful algorithms.


Similarly, it has been previously proven that AI plays a facilitating role in the realms of medical imaging. In the recent pandemic context, AI has been used to develop a neural network that can screen X-rays for symptoms of COVI-19 infections. Although using nasal swabs remains the default testing mechanism for coronavirus, analyzing chest x-rays using AI can also offer meaningful insights for diagnosing coronavirus. Moreover, it has been put to use in Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of human body parts.


DarwinAI has recently released an open-source system named COVID-Net, essentially an x-ray mechanism deploying AI to detect COVID-19. This system’s response has already been overwhelming and opens other doors in the fight against the pandemic battle. The company is now developing a technical system that can help healthcare professionals risk-stratify patients who have caught COVID-19. This will further enable them to separate coronavirus patients from others.


Helping Physical And Mental Health

The outbreak of COVID-19, self-isolation, and lockdown have all rendered severe repercussions on the mental health of masses, both patients and non-patients. AI has already played a vital role in treating psychological disorders and has emerged as a proactive measure to counter such issues in the pandemic situation.


Similarly, healthcare personnel are experiencing a high workload due to the sudden and massive increase in COVID-19 patients. AI is being used to aid in early diagnosis and providing treatment of early-stage patients. At the same time, it is used for training medical students and practices regarding the coronavirus. This equips them with better knowledge and capabilities to fight the deadly virus. In the same context, AI can significantly impact patient care and address more potential challenges by reducing the healthcare workload. Moreover, with the help of real-time data analysis, AI provides up-to-date information that fastens the disease prevention and treatment.


It can be used to predict the probable site of infection, the influx of the COVID-19 virus and the need for proactive measures in case of hospitalization is required.


Intelligent Drones, Robots, And Chatbots

The mass use of AI-equipped intelligent drones and robots has significantly accelerated due to the strict social distancing protocols as required by the pandemic. Some drones are being used to track individuals roaming around in public without face masks. In contrast, others are used to broadcast information or even disinfect public spaces. Similarly, AI-deploying robots play a pivotal role in patient care without putting healthcare workers at any risk. From room cleaning and disinfecting to the sterilization of isolation wards, robots are significantly reducing the workload.


Moreover, Virtual Healthcare Assistants (Chatbots) is another practical manifestation of AI leveraging natural language processing capabilities. Multi-lingual chatbots are used to answer key questions related to COVID-19, monitor and track symptoms amongst patients, and even advise individuals whether they require hospital screening or self-isolation at homes.


Artificial Intelligence is undoubtedly an upcoming and promising tool for early identification of infections such as COVID-19. It helps monitor the conditions of the infected patients and devise proactive and preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus. It has already proven itself in treatment consistency and improving decision-making by developing useful algorithms. While tracking the crisis of COVID-19 at various scales, including molecular, epidemiological, and medical applications, AI can significantly help in developing proper treatment plans and prevention strategies.


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