January 2021

Artificial Intelligence and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare around the world. The need for solutions today—for better predictive models, better diagnostics, more and better treatments—is driving the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) as a necessary—yet still experimental—methodology. While some are concerned about the quality of the studies being performed, or the need for better datasets, potential solutions are unfolding, and their development will play a much-needed role in reducing the workplace burden today’s healthcare workers are facing.

A recent rapid literature review, published for Diabetes India, found 7 applications for how AI is already making headway in the fight against the virus.

  1. Early detection and diagnosis of the infection—AI is being used to identify irregular symptoms and ‘red flags’ that allow for faster decision-making. It is also being used to develop diagnostic and patient management systems through better treatment algorithms (figure).
  2. Monitoring the treatment—AI helps in monitoring and predicting the virus’ spread in large and small areas.
  3. Contact tracing—AI can help analyze the level of viral infection through identification of clusters and hot spots, as well as managing the necessary contact tracing.
  4. Projection of cases and mortality—Using various tracking measures (eg, social media), AI can forecast risk of infection, likely spread, and potential deaths by region.
  5. Development of drugs and vaccines.
  6. Workload reduction for healthcare workers—AI is being used to develop better training and CME programs to spread the knowledge about how best to treat COVID-19.
  7. Prevention of disease—Because AI can identify traits, causes and reasons for spread, AI can be used in the future to fight against emerging pandemics.

Source: Vaishya R, Javaid M, Khan IH, Haleem A. Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications for COVID-19. Diabetes Metab Syn Clin Res Reviews. 2020;14:337-339.

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