Sunday, March 22, 2020

How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping The Fight Against Coronavirus
















Artificial intelligence is improving the ability of healthcare providers to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic – allowing for faster diagnoses and speedy dissemination of trusted information as well as detecting fraudulent insurance claims and accurately evaluating patient data in real time. SoftBank-backed AI company Automation Anywhere is offering free healthcare bots to help the industry manage increased workloads due to the outbreak. “Bots are software that will be configured within the company’s system in 24 to 48 hours. They can keep a track of infected people, analyse data, find new trends and perform clerical tasks,” Milan Sheth, the company's executive vice president for India, the Middle East and Africa, told The National. Collaborating with one of its technology partners in Macau, Automation Anywhere has developed a global positioning system-enabled dashboard that shows local statistics, sites of infection, hospital wait times, local availability of masks and other useful information which is updated every few minutes. “These bots will perform repetitive mundane tasks such as data entry or answering customer queries to free up human employees to tackle more important work … it will boost productivity and save time,” said Mr Sheth. Automation Anywhere’s health bots, which are also configured to respond in the Arabic language, are currently used by governments and private organisations in countries including India, China, Australia, New Zealand and the US. The company is also exploring options to offer its solutions to different pharmaceutical and research companies in the Middle East. UAE start-up Okadoc – an instant doctor-booking platform – is launching its telemedicine service in the next couple of weeks to tackle increased demand from patients for remote healthcare advice. “We have been working on developing our own telemedicine service [for the] last six to seven months … we will be launching in the next two weeks,” Fodhil Benturquia, founder and chief executive of Okadoc, said. A tractor driven by a worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant on the street to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Georgia. Reuters Last month, Okadoc raised $10 million (Dh36.7m) in its latest funding round from institutional and private investors. The company has had a spike in calls from patients since the coronavirus outbreak. Telemedicine can also help with at-home testing for Covid-19. A US start-up, Scanwell, is working on developing at-home testing equipment for the coronavirus. The technology, which has been used by millions in China, was first developed by a Chinese technology company, Innovita, and was approved by a local health regulator. Scanwell said customers can use the equipment under the guidance of medical professionals through a telemedicine service, with the results available within a few hours. However, its use is still subject to US Food and Drug Administration approval. Another US company, Everlywell, said it has dropped plans to sell its first batch of testing kits for Covid-19 directly to consumers. Earlier, the company had announced it would start selling 30,000 kits from this week but later said it will only provide the equipment to medical facilities. “For the time being, Everlywell’s Covid-19 test will only be available to qualifying hospitals and healthcare companies who can commit to providing the test for free to healthcare workers and high-risk, symptomatic patients affected by the testing shortage,” the company said. Industry experts said Everlywell took a U-turn after it did not get required approvals from the FDA. “We want to alert the American public that, at this time, the FDA has not authorised any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for Covid-19,” the FDA said last week. Drone technology is also proving handy for many healthcare providers globally. Countries such as China, Spain and South Korea are using drones to keep an eye on people during lockdown campaigns and to disinfect communities. Terra Drone Group company Antwork flew medical samples and quarantine materials in China’s Xinchang province in February when the pandemic was at its peak. A smart field hospital, staffed by robots, also opened in China’s Wuhan on a trial basis this month, supported by China Mobile and robotics company CloudMinds. Okadoc, which has operations in the UAE and Indonesia, said it has managed to bring down patients’ wait time in Indonesia from more than five hours to 15 minutes by studying behaviour patterns of doctors. Mr Benturquia said the model developed in the country could play a crucial role as hospitals around the world experience a spike in admissions, leading to longer wait times. “Using AI and machine learning, we studied the doctors’ behaviour and accurately predicted when he is free… sometimes even in-between the already booked appointment slots.” Many doctors do not use the entire 20 minute-slot assigned to each patients, with some dealt within less than five minutes. “So we adjusted the patients in that remaining extra time. This model could be very successful in countries where there are not enough doctors,” said Mr Benturquia. In the GCC, there are more than two doctors for every 1,000 residents and in Dubai there are 3.7, but in Indonesia there are only 0.6, according to Okadoc. Social media is also helping healthcare organisations to address coronavirus concerns to some extent. For example, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) is using WhatsApp bots to keep the public informed with relevant information as well as reducing the spread of fake news and rumours. “We are continuously updating the bot with questions that we are receiving from the public,” said Dr Marwan Al Kaabi, director of group readiness and business continuity at Seha. The health service provider has launched a WhatsApp line, +971-56-371-3090 that was initially programmed to respond to 20 questions, but can now answer more than 200. “It will take into account different phrasings of questions and potential spelling mistakes, to make sure that the community find what they are looking for through the service,” said Dr Al Kaabi. Seha is planning to integrate more AI applications into the bot to make it more dynamic and capable of integrating live updates from a trusted source such as the World Health Organisation. “This will ensure the public are only receiving the latest up-to-date information available in real-time, without us having to manually update it.” Social media giant Facebook has also announced various initiatives to help people stay informed through Instagram. It has added more educational resources in Instagram Search and stickers to promote accurate information. It is also removing Covid-19 content unless posted by a credible health organisation. Updated: March 29, 2020 07:32 AM


 Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Coronavirus 

Team of Research Scientists Working On Computer, with Medical Equipment, Analyzing Blood and Genetic ... [+] Material Samples with Special Machines in the Modern Laboratory. Getty Imagine a typical Tuesday morning. You park your car in the nearby Costco’s parking lot. The lot is full, with vehicles parked nose to nose. You wait in a long line, similar to what you would see at Disney on a typical weekend. When you finally get inside, you see rows upon rows of empty shelves. You maneuver your shopping cart around frenzied shoppers, only to find that Costco is out of face masks, nonperishable items, medications, hand sanitizers, and hand soaps.  The reason for this newfound global love of hand sanitizers and masks? The fear and panic as the coronavirus (known as ‘2019-nCov’ or ‘Covid-19) spreads globally. As of March 3rd, 2020, Covid-19 had taken the lives of 3,168, as well as bringing more than 92,880 documented cases of infected people across at least 79 countries, including the United States and United Kingdom. This makes the coronavirus’ total death toll more than that of its ‘cousin’ SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus in 2003 (774 total deaths) and ‘bird flu’ in 2013 (616 total deaths). Experts have warned us that face masks do not help stop the spread of Covid-19. However, what is helpful are advancements in artificial intelligence and genetic technology. Artificial intelligence and genetic applied science are making it easier, faster, and cheaper to understand how the virus spreads, how to manage it, and how to contain its devastating effects. Sergey Young, founder of Longevity Vision Fund A.I. May Be Able To Predict Epidemics Artificial Intelligence, or more commonly known as A.I., can warn of an upcoming epidemic and give us enough time to prepare.  For example, BlueDot, a global artificial intelligence database company, uses A.I.-powered algorithm, machine learning, and natural-language processing to analyze information from a multitude of sources and track over a hundred infectious diseases.  On December 31st, 2019 Blue Dot sent out a warning to its customers to avoid Wuhan, ahead of both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) To contrast that, the World Health Organization (WHO) did not send out a notice until January 9th, 2020. Earlier this month, BlueDot predicted where other Asian city outbreaks could be by analyzing traveler itineraries and flight paths. In the future, A.I. Could even use social media data to predict human behavior and potential outbreaks. A.I. Can Speed Up Drug Discovery and Development A.I. Is not only able to warn us of an impending epidemic, but it can help us identify, develop, and scale new treatments and vaccines faster than ever before.  The key to developing a vaccine is to be able to rapidly and efficiently recreate the virus’s genome sequence and build a copy of the virus.  In just one month, scientists in China recreated the genome sequence of the virus. To compare how extraordinary that is, it took scientists several months to recreate the genome sequence of the SAR’s virus in 2003. Not only that, researchers in Australia created a lab-grown copy of the virus from an infected patient.  Having an accurate genome sequence and an exact replica of the virus copy, we can then quickly develop and validate diagnostic tests for the virus. We now have one vaccine candidate entering clinical trials within three months.  Furthermore, Longevity Vision Fund, founded by longevity investor and visionary Sergey Young, one of the few global life extension-focused funds, along with an army of biotech companies and entrepreneurs, are at the forefront to collaborate and fast-track the development of treatment.   For example, one of Longevity Vision Fund’s portfolio company Insilico Medicine was able to use its A.I. System to successfully identify thousands of molecules for potential medications in just four days. Insilico Medicine then initiated an open policy, and published the updated findings on its website so all researchers could download the data for free, ultimately contributing to the global effort to combat the epidemic. Imagine what we can do with that kind of speed, scalability, and free collaboration! A.I. May Help Minimize Fatality and Optimize Disease Management  Lastly, A.I. Can help manage the outbreak and minimize fatalities by decreasing the burden on the healthcare professionals and reminding patients on proper care procedures. Physicians, nurses, and hospital staff are at high risk of Covid-19 exposure and contraction. To date, thousands of hospital staff in China have been infected with the virus. A.I. Can help alleviate that burden. For example, China is using robots to provide faster diagnostic checks, and Hangzhou city ambulances are assisted by A.I. To speed through traffic.  A.I. Can also help remind us of what we should do in case we have contracted the virus. China launched an app that helps people check if they have taken a flight or train with a confirmed coronavirus patient. At the same time, China is using drones to ensure residents are taking the appropriate precautions. Although Covid-19’s rapid spread globally is scary, it gives us a ray of hope knowing the awe-inspiring, boundary-breaking, cross-collaboration of our healthcare leaders, politicians, and public servants. We must take the time to pay tribute and appreciation to the front-line healthcare workers, to the scientists sharing and collaborating cross-culturally and to the public servants hard at work mitigating the epidemic path. So, here’s to all those fighting the disease, and to our ultimate conquering of the Covid-19. Sergey Young, founder of Longevity Vision Fund 



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