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Machine learning and data science might be two great weapons we have in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. AI (artificial intelligence) and genetic applied science are making it speedier, easier, and cheaper to identify how the virus spreads, how to control and manage it, and how to contain its shocking effects. While it is perhaps too late for the fledgling expertise and technology to play a crucial role in the current epidemic, there is still hope for the next outbreaks. Artificial intelligence is good at merging through enormous data to find connections that make it simpler to find out what types of experiments could work or which treatments to pursue next.
Now the question might be is what Big Data will come up with when it only gets meager scraps of information on COVID-19, which emerged in China and has trapped more than 75,000-80,000 people in about 2-3 months. The fact that researchers managed to make the gene sequencing of the new virus within weeks of the first reported cases is promising, since it shows there are far more immediate data available now when outbreaks happen.
Human Intervention and Management
- Andrew Hopkins, chief executive officer of Oxford, England-based startup Exscientia Ltd. is among those working to help train artificial intelligence for drug discovery. He figures new treatments could go from conception to clinical testing in as little as 18 to 24 months within the next decade, thanks to AI. Exscientia designed a new compound for treating an obsessive-compulsive disorder that’s ready to be tested in the lab after less than a year in the initial research phase. That’s about five times faster than average, according to the company.
- Cambridge-based Healx has a similar approach, but it uses machine learning to find new uses for existing drugs. Both companies feed their algorithms with information — gleaned from sources such as journals, biomedical databases, and clinical trials — to help suggest new treatments for diseases.
- As China initiated its response to the virus, it leaned on its strong technology sector and specifically artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and technology to track and fight the pandemic while tech leaders, including Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei and more accelerated their company’s healthcare initiatives. As a result, tech startups are integrally involved with clinicians, academics, and government entities around the world to activate technology as the virus continues to spread to many other countries.
- Artificial intelligence algorithms are already starting to churn out drugs for the diseases we know about. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said on Thursday that they’d used the method to identify a powerful new antibiotic compound that could kill an array of troublesome bacteria even some that are currently resistant to other treatments.
- Combined with the assistance of human experts, BlueDot’s AI (an artificial intelligence platform) can not only predict the start of an epidemic but also forecast how it will spread. In the case of COVID-19, the AI successfully identified the cities where the virus would be transferred to after it surfaced in Wuhan. Machine learning algorithms studying travel patterns were able to predict where the people who had contracted coronavirus were likely to travel.
- AI can help speed up the process. DeepMind, the AI research lab acquired by Google in 2014, recently declared that it has used deep learning to find new information about the structure of proteins associated with COVID-19. This is a process that could have taken many more months. Understanding protein structures can provide important clues to the coronavirus vaccine formula. DeepMind is one of several organizations that are engaged in the race to unlock the coronavirus vaccine. It has leveraged the result of decades of machine learning progress as well as research on protein folding.
A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin shows a model structurally representative of a beta coronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19.
How Artificial Intelligence, MI, Data Science, and Technology Is Used To Fight The Pandemic?
- AI to identify, track and forecast outbreaks
- AI to help diagnose the virus
- Process healthcare claims
- Drones deliver medical supplies
- Robots sterilize, deliver food and supplies and perform other tasks
- Develop drugs
- Advanced fabrics offer protection
- AI to identify non-compliance or infected individuals
- Chatbots to share information
- Supercomputers working on a coronavirus vaccine
Though current AI technologies are far from replicating human intelligence, they are proving to be very helpful in tracking the outbreak, diagnosing patients, disinfecting areas, and speeding up the process of finding a cure for COVID-19.To be effective, AI-based drug developers would have to plan ahead of time, picking out a virus genome likely to cause problems in the future and targeting it when there are few incentives to do so.
- NEXU Science Communication | Reuters