The Wuhan coronaviral outbreak is spreading at a rapid rate globally. Reports claim that more than 37,000 people are infected in mainland China alone, along with deaths globally, according to CNN. With the global health emergency on the roll, scientists are using AI (artificial intelligence) to track the spread of the virus. Scientists from Harvard Medical School organized an international team that is capable of developing a program to track the infectious agent.
This machine learning program tracks down the agent by combining data from social media posts, news channel reports, public health agencies, and information from doctors. The program mainly focuses on social media posts that relate to the symptoms of the coronaviral outbreak. In addition to this, the program has also natural language processing that helps to differentiate between the people talking and news channel discussions.
Dependence on technology
It is seen that the rate of the virus spread is slow in the past few days. This has risen concern among the monitoring authorities. That is because it is still unknown if the virus spread is really slowing or the infection is becoming more difficult to track. Therefore, it is essential to use modern technology to analyze this chaotic situation, especially if it is beyond our analytical capability.
One should note the fact that we did not have such technology during the SARS outbreak in 2002. Now, with the help of these tools, we will be able to “identify pin in a haystack like data,” according to one of the members of the team. Also, it is a challenge to identify the data from normal cold/flu apart from the coronavirus. Beyond identifying new cases, AI and machine learning will help us know how the virus behaves in a population.
Also, there was an earlier study conducted by the National Institute of Health, which reports that there is a delay in reporting the cases from the coronaviral outbreak. Other data from mobile devices might assist epidemiologists to form a trajectory of the infectious spread. However, this will not reveal exactly how the virus will spread in larger populations. That is still a mystery and needs to be revealed. One should also note that such tools identified the outbreak even before the Chinese authorities announced it.