AI Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

Written By Monica Savaglia

Posted April 21, 2020

Most Americans are used to instant gratification. When we do something or put effort into something, we want to see results and we want those results quickly. If we have a question about something, we google it. If we want food, we get on an app and order it. 

Lately, I’ve found myself cleaning or doing a project around my apartment and realizing that I’m missing some item. So I open up my Amazon app and with a few clicks, I have that item ordered and guaranteed to be delivered in a day or two. These are all privileges that we’ve grown accustomed to. I’m not saying this with judgment because, obviously, it’s a way of life for me, too. 

I think the desire for instant gratification has made it even harder to approach the second month of being on lockdown and isolated. We’re doing what we’re told to do — stay at home — but the results aren’t happening as quickly as we’d like them to. We don’t see the end of COVID-19 in sight. This is probably why some people over the past weekend took to the streets to demonstrate in favor of opening up the economy again, which could put pressure on state governments to open up states too early. 

It’s obvious that being inside for almost two months is getting to some of us. We’re not seeing the results immediately, so it’s hard to believe that any of this is actually having an effect, but it is. The results just won’t be instant — something our brains haven’t been trained to realize. Having a purpose and getting back to what we know seems like the only solution. Everything is far from normal, and it’s hard to navigate life without seeing any definite results. That’s probably going to be something we have to remind ourselves of and train our brains to get through.

We’re going to have to face the uncertainty and not be afraid of the new challenges and opportunities we’ll be faced with. We must look to new approaches to figure them out. And speaking of new approaches — a technology that has received a lot of hype in the past few years is being used to assist and even speed up solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic

Artificial Intelligence Helps to Find a Solution

Just because there isn’t an instant solution to this virus right now doesn’t mean that people aren’t working hard to find logical and effective solutions. Tech companies, science, and governments have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help predict potential coronavirus outbreaks to help make tough decisions and determine whether a state is prepared to open back up again or to what extent we need to incorporate social distancing into our everyday lives. 

AI is helping in various ways. Since testing is lagging (and potentially inaccurate) and states aren’t able to test as much as they would like to, AI is helping is with preventative measures.

Nirav Shah, a senior scholar at Stanford University and former health commissioner for New York state, said, “Until we get true, widespread testing, we have to rely on any and all signals.” A system developed by clinical AI company Jvion uses a combination of lifestyle, hospitalization, emergency-room use, mortality, and outcomes data, assisting health care workers in identifying people who could be at high risk. Jvion has launched a COVID Community Vulnerability Map. 

The company said in a statement about its map:

The interactive map identifies populations down to the census block level that is at risk for severe outcomes upon contracting a virus like COVID. Additionally, the map surfaces the socioeconomic and environmental factors, such as lack of access to transportation or nutritious food, that put patients at greater risk. 

This type of information can help providers, public health organizations, and other support agencies offer intervention and services that could help keep people from contracting the virus or better assist them if they test positive. This data could also help local health departments prioritize resources in areas that might be more vulnerable. 

Shantanu Nigam, CEO and founder of Jvion, said:

We are tremendously grateful for the thousands of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against COVID. Their courage and rapid mobilization in the face of the greatest public health threat of our time has been incredibly inspiring. We are working around the clock to provide them with data-driven insights to help them protect the most vulnerable members of their communities. 

AI has been useful for drug discovery and the quest to find a vaccine. A Cambridge company, Healx, has repurposed its AI system, which had been developed to find drugs for rare diseases, to help with finding a solution for COVID-19. The system is divided into three parts:

1. Going through all current literature related to the disease.
2. Studying the DNA and structure of the virus.
3. Considering the suitability of various drugs.

The company was able to gather the data it needed to run algorithms to hopefully have a list of drug candidates by May. Drug discovery is a tedious task and involves a lot of different aspects, but since this virus affects the entire globe, the quest to beat it is enormous. Everyone is using all of their resources to get to a solution — or even solutions. 

AI has been touted as a miracle technology, and it might just prove to be a valuable resource in the difficult task of beating COVID-19. 

Until next time,

Monica Savaglia Signature Park Avenue Digest

Monica Savaglia

Monica Savaglia is Wealth Daily’s IPO specialist. With passion and knowledge, she wants to open up the world of IPOs and their long-term potential to everyday investors. She does this through her newsletter IPO Authority, a one-stop resource for everything IPO. She also contributes regularly to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Monica, click here.

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