Big data, data science, and machine learning are the cornerstones of Artificial Intelligence, playing a major role in assisting scientists and authorities in combating the unprecedented public health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology is widely used in various ways across different fields to forecast the possible scenarios that can develop from the health crisis and even helps to explain and manage these. Across various fields associated with the public health system, the use of AI has become even much more widespread after the pandemic as it not only supports the process but drives it towards a logical conclusion, explains Hani Zeini. Remember that AI helps in the process of decision-making only by providing various inputs, but humans only make the final decisions. 

Using AI to fight COVID-19 – Areas identified by Hani Zeini

Although the use of AI is possible in many areas, the most visible application of technology is happening in three distinct areas. Healthcare centers are using AI for the management of services and resources. Researchers are finding out more about the virus by fighting it through the development of drugs and vaccines. Lastly, AI is being used by the authorities for analyzing data to support public policy decisions taken for formulating measures in containment to manage the crisis, according to Hani Zeini.

AI in research 

AI has been in use in research for quite some time, but the pandemic crisis has accelerated the pace to find a cure to win the battle against the pandemic. AI is helping scientists to discover new facets of the virus, which helps to break new grounds. With the help of AI, scientists can understand the way the virus is evolving through fast mutation so that they can even predict the protein structures of the coronavirus. AI is playing a dominant role in the projects related to vaccine development as scientists are working tirelessly to beat the clock and discover a vaccine in the shortest possible time.

AI facilitates administrative decisions 

The decision-making process of governments rely heavily upon data collected and analyzed by using AI to develop models that assist in decision making to stop the spread of infections. Based on the data analysis results, authorities can decide various containment measures and their extent and duration, as evident from the long stretches of lockdowns enforced across the world at different times of varying duration. Such measures have been effective in cutting off the chain of infection and slowing down the coronavirus spread.   

Drawing evidence from data

Heavy focus on data assimilation and analysis has been the mainstay of the public decision-making process based on evidence obtained by analyzing data. To understand the impact of public mobility during lockdowns, governments and authorities are using AI to identify mobility types that need to be controlled based on the evidence available from the collected data.  

The mobility model findings will complement the epidemiological models that will help better understand the evolution of the pandemic by considering the number of infected people who can spread the disease and the rate of recovery.