It is July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic that started almost a year ago is still there with us. The detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 infections has seen a rise. This is due to the use of various AI applications. Also, the number of people being vaccinated on a daily basis is increasing. However, uncertainty still looms about what is going to happen in the future.
The use of AI applications and various AI based solutions have increased drastically during the COVID-19 times. There are numerous articles in newspapers and research work being published in journals about how technological applications have contributed to limiting the damage caused due to the pandemic. The research papers published give an idea to the world about the contributions made by scientists and the AI community in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contributions made by AI applications can be grouped into five different categories. These include:
Epidemiological AI applications
- Epidemiology refers to the study of the distribution of diseases in the human population and the factors that influence the same.
- Predictive models powered by AI are being developed to keep a watch on the spread of the Coronavirus.
- Models based on AI that predict how effective vaccines are and how dangerous a particular location is for viral transmission have also been created.
- The ensemble, which consists of different AI based models from leading research institutes and an independent data scientist Youyang Gu is being used by the American Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- An AI based solution that helps in effective epidemic management is the prediction of the number of healthcare facilities required with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
- The COVID-19 Capacity Planning and Analysis System (CPAS) is a model developed by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK in collaboration with various researchers. This has helped tackle the ICU capacity planning problem in the UK.
AI applications for biochemistry
- Biochemistry in the case of COVID-19 pandemic refers to the identification and discovery of viral proteins and other features of the virus in an attempt to design drugs or vaccines targeted towards a specific viral component.
- It is impossible for AI applications to completely control vaccine development. However, AI based solutions can be used in handling some stages in the process.
- Research groups and pharmaceutical companies across the globe have already started making use of AI based solutions and models for drug target prediction.
Clinical AI applications
- Machine learning and algorithms are being used for clinical diagnosis of COVID-19.
- The use of machine learning on chest X-rays and computed tomography (CT) have been effectively used in detection and diagnosis of COVID-19.
- AI applications help to understand the extent of lung damage in a COVID-19 positive person. This is not possible with RT-PCR tests that are being used for diagnosis.
Providing relevant and genuine information
- AI powered technological applications have played a crucial role in communicating the right information to people around the world.
- During the pandemic, the chances of spread of misinformation is quite high. AI applications filter out such false information to deliver only what is true and relevant.
- The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) has a repository of all the research work done on COVID-19. This machine-readable dataset was created by the Allen Institute after request from the White House in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AI applications for assessment of safety
- In order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, there are various safety precautions and measures being implemented in different countries worldwide.
- Social distancing and wearing masks in public places are some of them.
- The use of AI powered cameras, computer vision, and CCTV equipment can help detect violators in the crowd.
- Data extraction of the footage or image captured can serve as an evidence against the person violating the COVID-19 guidelines.
- For example, a mask detection software has been given to at least one supermarket chain in the UK. In Cannes, a city in France, this software has been effectively used by three supermarket chains.
There is no denying the fact that AI applications in different areas have proved to be quite effective against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not the end. AI applications will continue to be used for health management even after the pandemic is over.