Remember how we were so stressed over technology slaughtering jobs only a year ago? Now that Coronavirus is killing people around the world, the future has turned in a new direction. As the world is wrestling with COVID-19, every bit of technological innovation harnessed to battle this pandemic has brought us a step closer to conquering it. Here are some ways technology is assisting us in this battle against COVID19.
Artificial Intelligence is being actively used to identify high-risk patients at an earlier stage. And therefore, is helping us control the spread of the infection in real-time. It was a Canadian AI company called BlueDot that developed an AI program that alarmed the world about Coronavirus after its first case was detected in China on December 31st 2019. It works by combining AI with the knowledge of epidemiologists who identify how and where to look for evidence of emerging diseases.
Toronto based health monitoring AI platform “BlueDot” defeated the WHO and CDC when it came to issuing warnings about COVID. It even correctly predicted the path of the infection spread from Wuhan to Tokyo.
Countries like South Korea and Germany have been able to successfully handle the virus because of the amount of testing that is done in those countries. Thus, it is now evident that increasing the number of tests for COVID-19 can save lives. However, the problem is that the main testing methods are labour intensive and time-consuming. But thank God for AI, it is now assisting with other forms of testing. Various AI programs are now available for chest screening that can highlight lung abnormalities in a chest X-ray scan and provide a COVID-19 risk evaluation much faster than human radiologists.
AI can also help detect useful drugs that can be used to treat COVID-19 patients and can allow vaccines and treatments to be identified at a faster rate through computational analysis.
A range of AI-based robots has emerged during recent months that help in the COVID-19 battle by reducing contact between patients and health care workers. Thus, minimizing the risk of cross-infections.
For example, Chinese firms are using drones and robots to perform contactless delivery and to spray disinfectants in public areas to minimize the risk of cross-infection. Other robots are checking people for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms and dispensing hand sanitiser foam and gel. Robots are also being used to serve food and medicine to patients and to disinfect their rooms. A company called Boston Dynamics have produced a robot dog, known as Spot. This robot is being used to reduce the contact health workers must have with potentially contagious patients. According to a Reuters report, a small robot called “Little Peanut” delivered food to passengers who were on a flight from Singapore to Hangzhou, China.
Contact-tracing apps are already in widespread use in Asia. These apps detect the whereabouts of smartphone users and close contact with other users. AI algorithms then determine the risk of cross-infection and then alert users of such risks. For example, Aarogya Sethu, an Indian Coronavirus tracking app, gives state-wise figures of confirmed, recovered and deceased COVID19 cases in the country, identifies potential hotspots around the user’s location, calculates the risk of infection based on user’s proximity of interaction with an infected or susceptible person, recommends a suitable action and also provides suitable medical interventions as and when required.
The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the WHO chatbot for providing information regarding novel Coronavirus that gives answers to the FAQs like infection rate and preventive measures. The chatbot is simple to use and operates on the WhatsApp platform that now belongs to Facebook.
Telemedicine has also played a crucial role by helping people avoid overwhelming hospitals crowded with an unmanageable number of patients. By streamlining the diagnosis as well as the treatment, it is making everything faster and easier. Now, patients only have to open an app, describe their symptoms, and wait for a doctor’s consultation virtually.
Social media is now actively using AI technologies to mitigate the spread of false information across its platform. This has become particularly important because a series of conspiracy theories and false medical information is circulating across the media these days.
Video call applications have become significant tools for dealing with confinement while not losing contact with those past the four walls (especially for people who live alone).
Stopping the spread of Coronavirus will take a lot of hard work, research, and ingenuity. This pandemic has now transformed into a worldwide catastrophe, leaving endless individuals helpless, breaking economies and putting the entire world under lockdown. But beneath this dark cloud, technology and innovations are the silver linings proving us a ray of hope.