|AI helps in monitoring and responding to the global outbreak of novel coronavirus / Credits: Dmitryi Epov via 123RF|
With over 9,776 total confirmed cases and 213 deaths across the world, the novel coronavirus is indeed a major global health emergency. The nCov is a new strain that came from a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. It was first reported in Wuhan, China and eventually spread across many countries such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines, and more.
While artificial intelligence is still not capable of helping scientists create the cure for this virus, it is currently playing a huge role in monitoring and responding to the crisis. For instance, the site called healthmap.org, which shows the current status of nCov worldwide, uses AI to analyze data from government reports, social media, news sites, and other sources. This is the first time in a global outbreak that AI is becoming a useful tool. In previous outbreaks, AI offered limited value because of a shortage of data needed to provide updates quickly.
“The field has evolved dramatically,” John Brownstein, a computational epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said.
According to Stat News, an American health-oriented news website that delivers fast, deep, and tough-minded journalism about life sciences and the fast-moving business of making medicines, the researchers are constantly monitoring millions of posts about coronavirus on social media and news sites with the help of algorithms to generate near-real-time information for public health officials tracking its spread. Brownstein stated that they are using machine learning to scrape all the information, classify it, tag it, and filter it. All of the gathered information would be turned over to the World Health Organization.
“Machine learning is very good at identifying patterns in the data, such as risk factors that might identify zip codes or cohorts of people that are connected to the virus,” Don Woodlock, a vice president at InterSystems, a global vendor of electronic health records that is helping providers in China analyzed data on coronavirus patients, said.