29 Mar 2020

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to fight with COVID-19

At the time when the world is facing severe consequences amid corona virus, digital technologies can vital role for giving a fight back challenge to the pandemic from both social health and economic perspectives. A digitally sound response to the COVID-19 pandemic can take numerous forms and have greater potential to bring substantial outcomes. In recent days, one important area where rapid developments have been recorded is new claims of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These techniques are not only helping in developing new medicines and drugs but also can help in screening of the affected population and assessing infection risks.

Current Challenges

Screening the population in order to identify potential persons who might be ill is the biggest challenge before the community. The developing countries like Nepal where healthcare systems are already at very underdeveloped stage, it’s like unimaginable to pace up the screening process. Also lack of skilled healthcare staff persons also a biggest challenge before the Nepal Healthcare system. In India, the doctors to population ratio is 1:1800, which is slightly low when compared to the minimum recommended doctor to population ratio of 1:1000 set by WHO. But the situation at Nepal is more dangerous while doctor to population ratio is 1:1724. Just like most developing nations, doctors at Nepal are geographically mal distributed. As per studies, the Kathmandu valley has one doctor for 850 people but in rural areas the number is one doctor for every 150000 people which is an alarming bell under COVID-19 outbreak. Sufficient Testing kits can also become a big issue when it comes to mass testing conditions.

Leveraging AI and ML

As per Financial Express, a leading news agency, Corona infection began at China but a Canadian AI firm named BlueDot caught this infection first. BlueDot is an AI-based infectious disease surveillance system. Such AI based platforms uses various new and emerging technologies like AI, Big Data and Machine Learning for searching any possible large-scale diseases. This firm first got the sign of this pandemic around December 30, 2019. Such kind of AI-based platforms are undertaking a large amount of data crunching processes for leveraging the entire health, food, poultry, fisheries and tourism sectors. Their researchers develop custom-made algorithms which become the base for drawing inferences. Now days, data science and machine learning are two significant tools which are known to helping the fight against Covid-19.

After the widespread at Wuhan of China, Chinese AI firms have shown tremendous efforts by introducing AI-powered temperature screening systems at all crowded areas of their main cities including Beijing which helped them to minimize the Corona propagation in other parts of China. They placed these advanced systems at Railway stations and other areas. The main advantage of these AI powered systems is their ability of screening hundreds of persons from a distance within minutes. AI enabled smartphone apps are also being developed which are very useful in tracking the geographical spread of virus and checking the individual health conditions in a very convenient way. These apps are vital in tracing the potentials and to predict most suspicious population who can become easy carriers of virus. These apps also help patients to monitor their real time health conditions, to provide necessary updates and advices about their medical conditions without visiting hospitals physically.

AI and ML can also be useful in detection and removal of misinformation posted on social media during the outbreak conditions. Highly accurate CT scans for detecting virus inducted pneumonia, optimization of clinical trials of medicines and 3D printing capabilities make AI and ML very significant in such pandemic conditions.


AI community is striving hard and intensively on delivering appropriate applications that can help to contain the COVID-19 and thousands of researchers are working day and night in their research for developing such applications. Such AI systems are still at a very initial phase and it will take time before the results of such AI measures are visible. Till then, the world is still far from the end of this tragic story of COVID-19.

Author –
Prof. (Dr.) Sandeep Kautish
LBEF Campus