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How AI and machine learning is proving to be a necessary tool to help with COVID-19.

16th November 2020                                                                                                                                                                                                     

2020 has proven to be one of the toughest years to date with the unprecedented Coronavirus. With new cases arising on a global scale every day, never has AI and Machine Learning in the healthcare industry been in desperate demand for. Every bit of innovative technology that resonates human intelligence brings us one step closer to overcoming and controlling the virus.  As we know, Machine Learning is a necessary tool in today’s climate that is constantly improving to serve current purposes. In this blog, we will place a focus on the application of AI and Machine Learning in its efforts to help combat the pandemic. 

In a constant battle to fight COVID-19, organisations have quickly jumped on the bandwagon on their current machine learning knowledge and have applied it to the current setting. Machine learning is applied in multiple stages of the combat process, from improving customer communications, understanding how the virus spreads and facilitating research and eventual treatment. 

With social distancing summarising the year in two words, all business large and small, private, or public are finding new ways to accommodate this practice whilst simultaneously ensuring that they remain to operate efficiently. Machine learning has aided this shift in working culture by establishing the tools needed to support remote communication. One common example is the use of Chatbots for contactless screening of the virus’ symptoms and to answer any query the public may have. An example of this in action is the French start-up,, who has launched a chatbot to ease communications between the public and government. The chatbot assesses known symptoms and answers questions about government policies. With almost 3 million messages sent to-date, this chatbot is able to answer questions on everything from exercise to an evaluation of COVID-19 risks, without further straining the resources of healthcare and government institutions.  

Understanding how COVID-19 spreads 

Machine Learning also plays a key role in forecasting the number of cases of COVID-19 by helping researchers and analysts understand large volumes of data, in order to act as an early warning system for future outbreaks and to identify the most vulnerable populations in which these outbreaks can occur in. BlueDot, a Canadian start-up uses AI to detect outbreaks. The company was notable for bringing awareness and concern about COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Using machine learning algorithms, BlueDot analyses reports in 65 languages along with animal disease networks to detect outbreaks and anticipate the spread of disease. Epidemiologists then review those results and verify that the conclusions make sense from a scientific standpoint. BlueDot provides those insights to public health officials, airlines and hospitals to help them anticipate and better manage risks. 

Efficiently working to find treatment 

The downfall of receiving a constant mass of data about COVID-19 is to quickly derive insights that can facilitate the generation of treatment. New information is given daily and this provides a complex web to sift to ensure correct analysis and appropriate treatment. In response, AWS launched CORD-19 Search, a new search website powered by machine learning, that can help researchers quickly and easily search for research papers and documents and answer questions like “When is the salivary viral load highest for COVID-19?” this machine learning solution can extract relevant medical information from unstructured text and delivers robust natural-language query capabilities, helping to accelerate the pace of discovery. 

In the field of medical imaging, researchers are using machine learning to help recognise patterns in images, enhancing the ability of radiologists to indicate the probability of disease and diagnose it earlier. 

It is an encouraging feeling to know that the population is all contributing to combating COVID-19 in a highly swiftly way and, further, applying and enhancing the power of machine learning to address the virus. It is known that machine learning mimics human intelligence, and in this case, that assumption has come intro fruition as organisations respond in an appropriate manner. With new advancements in technology, it is guaranteed that the global community can become greatly powerful and influential when fighting against viruses. 

Michaela Agius

Michaela Agius

Digital Marketing Analyst at AI Australia


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