Coronavirus: How AI is Making The Difference?


AI is becoming useful to monitor and respond to the crisis. From robots to telemedicine, now Alibaba and Baidu offer AI gene sequencing tool


The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China late last year, has, unfortunately, become a global health hazard. Artificial Intelligence is not going to stop the new coronavirus or replace the role of expert epidemiologists. But for the first time in a global outbreak, it is becoming a useful tool in efforts to monitor and respond to the crisis, according to health data specialists. In prior outbreaks, AI offered limited value, because of a shortage of data needed to provide updates quickly. Today the situation changed radically, let’s see why.

Today in China, hospital starts to use AI-powered droids capable of disinfecting themselves to help treat patients. Ping Ping and An An, these are droids’ names, took to their posts few days ago at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital. According to officials, they are able to open doors, take lifts and avoid obstructions, therefore they are ideal for delivering medicine to patients, in the process, no human effort is needed and this can reduce the frequency medics need to leave the quarantine units and provide protection said the government body.

The self-driving and self-charging robots can disinfect their own interior and their exterior can be sterilized in a dozen seconds with rubbing alcohol. Moreover, they are able to create a database for all patients and film their work process. 


One of two robots in Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital


Alibaba Health, Alibaba’s health care arm, has made its telemedicine services available to residents of Hubei, encouraging patients who have minor illnesses to consult online doctors for free as hospitals in the area feel the strain. Pingan Good Doctor, another online health care firm, Weibo and WeChat are offering telemedicine and other useful services for free too. 

The secret to stopping the deadly coronavirus is hidden in its genome. That’s why the real fight against coronavirus outbreak is inside laboratoriees. Nights and days, scietnes are working due to find a cure. Now Alibaba and Baidu, two of the county’s largest tech companies, are mobilising their genome research and AI capabilities.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud division of Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant, announced last Wednesday that it’s offering AI computing capabilities to scientific research institutions for free. Alibaba’s cloud division has been working in genomics research since 2015. The company provides computing power and data analytics to Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), one of the world’s largest genomics organisations, according to media. 


Experts: “With ML approaches, we can read the tens of billions of data and establish the connections to patients that do or do not have the virus”


And Baidu is joining the battle too. The company have been quietly researching genetics for years and now it’s making its gene sequencing algorithm available to scientists. Baidu said it’s now offering its LinearFold algorithm to coronavirus researchers for free along with AI computing capacity.  

The real question is: can AI make a difference? The answer is yes. As stated by Don Woodlock, the VP of HealthShare at InterSystems: “With ML approaches, we can read the tens of billions of data points and clinical documents in medical records and establish the connections to patients that do or do not have the virus. The ‘features’ of the patients that contract the disease pop out of the modeling process, which can then help us target patients that are higher risk”.

Plus “ML approaches can automatically build a model or relationship between treatments documented in medical records and the eventual patient outcomes. These models can quickly identify treatment choices that are correlated to better outcomes and help guide the process of developing clinical guidelines.”




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