New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 an outbreak in March 2020, following the detection of SARS CoV-2 in Wuhan, China. Since then, millions of deaths have been reported worldwide and increasing cases have been confirmed. The pandemic has severely affected lives, tested health care systems, slowed economies, changed the way we work and disrupted lives.
The various adverse effects and uncertainties of the pandemic have prompted leaders, policy makers and scientists to think of ways to prepare for the pandemic in the future and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Here, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can help.
Diagnosis and monitoring of diseases
AI has the ability to handle large amounts of data to create intelligent models for human understanding and decision making. It can handle data across multiple domains, which is very tedious and time consuming for humans. This ability of AI to gather, digest and analyze data is crucial for predicting future epidemic and disease outbreaks.
For example, in the case of Wuhan, we can analyze if we have a data collection system that integrates data on individuals’ movements, purchase patterns and consumer preferences, abrupt changes in footsteps, types and types of purchased / consumed animals / meat. To detect the arrival of COVID-19 and quickly warn the world about a potential pandemic. These data, now historic, can also be used to identify similar patterns worldwide and to predict the spread of an infectious disease.
If we can get information to regional administrative or healthcare bodies and eventually go around the world, we can predict the onset of diseases. With data on the types of symptoms and their severity, we can assess the impact of diseases and develop control protocols using AI-led systems.
Similarly, AI systems help administrative bodies track the affected population and monitor their disease progression to determine recovery time based on age, gender, presence or morbidity and other factors. Such insights can help in tracing contact tracking and monitoring infected cases to further assess and prevent the spread of disease from one population to another.
Early diagnosis using AI
In infectious diseases, as well as in rapidly spreading diseases, treatment prognosis is based on how quickly the disease is detected and identified. If we can detect symptoms early, it will give health care professionals enough time to treat patients properly. However, it is manually impossible to diagnose or diagnose the underlying diseases before they appear.
Furthermore, people may not see a medical professional regularly and for some, seeing someone may also be a barrier due to unavailability or access issues. This is where AI helps. AI algorithms can perform first-level screenings to find signs of underlying problems and subtle details that refer individuals to professionals.
Beyond AI systems, the potential for configurable AI systems to analyze data obtained from medical tests is even greater. For example, these systems can be used to monitor small but frequent fluctuations in oxygen in the blood or to measure variations in breathing, which can be detected in advance and reported to physicians and patients via a smartphone, allowing for rapid medical assistance.
AI in the development of vaccines and drug innovations
In the race to control COVID-19, machine learning (ML) systems and computational analysis played an important role in vaccine exploration. These tools have enabled researchers to study the virus, its structure, and its components, provoking a critical immune response in vaccine design. This will help scientists to select the components of the vaccine and understand the experimental data. These can help scientists track the genetic mutations of the virus over time, crucial information to determine the value of any vaccine.
Similarly, advanced AI systems are rapidly experimenting to identify the effects of various drugs that are important in finding symptoms and ultimately alternative methods to control diseases. Although AI and computational methods can optimize vaccine development and drug innovation, they cannot replace or accelerate vital aspects such as animal and human testing and monitoring their progress, which requires human intelligence.
AI in preventing the spread of false information
When it comes to the epidemic, there is a polarization of views and fake information shared on social media and online networks. AI can go through billions of social media chats and detect signs of misinformation. For example, we as a country are a victim of COVID-related misinformation and at that time ‘WhatsApp University’ became bigger. AI was able to point out to the authorities the source of the misinformation and how they could minimize it. AI’s ability to collect and locate critical information along with human consciousness can help prevent the spread of misinformation into society.
AI not only prevents the spread of diseases, but also advises humans to make the right decisions to control the movement of diseases and their impact on lives. AI plays a key role in supporting and empowering medical practitioners in their daily work. This gives them more bandwidth to take care of patients and helps them to have spreads and recover faster.
By Dr. Jaideep Jason Raipud, Senior Subject Specialist, Healthcare AI, iMerit
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com is not responsible for any harm caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly)