The coronavirus pandemic has taken the whole world by storm. It has created a stir across the social and economic lives of people globally. What’s worrying is that over several thousands of people across the world have succumbed to this outbreak with countries such as China, Italy, and the US being the worst hit by COVID-19.
Given that several hundreds and thousands of people are affected by the novel coronavirus, the world is now looking for an effective treatment, vaccine or drug. Several healthtech and biotech companies across the world are racing towards developing a treatment or a vaccine that might keep the infection away. While they rely on various technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and genetic applied science are doing their part to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to understand how the novel coronavirus spreads and how to contain it.
Chinese tech giant Baidu has developed an AI system that uses cameras fitted with computer vision and infrared sensors to identify the temperature of people in public places. It can screen a maximum of up to 200 people per minute and is effective enough to detect the temperature of a person within a range of 0.5 degree Celsius. This Baidu AI system reportedly will flag those who have a body temperature of above 37.3 degree Celsius is already deployed at the Quighe Railway Station in Beijing.
Apart from Baidu, another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba has developed an AI system capable of detecting coronavirus in chest CT scans. As per the researchers behind this system, it has 96% accuracy as it uses an AI system, which is trained using data from 5,000 coronavirus cases and performs the test in 20 seconds and can tell the difference between common rival pneumonia and coronavirus. Reportedly, this system that can help medical centres in China facing immense pressure to screen patients for coronavirus is all set to be deployed in 100 hospitals across the region.
Furthermore, Huawei is one of the latest tech giants to have come up with an AI solution to battle against the COVID-19 infection. Huawei Cloud has collaborated with Lanwon Technology and the Huazhong University of Science & Technology to develop an AI tool that will help doctors diagnose patients affected by coronavirus more effectively and at ease. This new AI-assisted diagnostic service automatically assesses the lung structure and its functionalities. Also, it is more accurate in differentiating between the various stages of the disease.
Given the use of Artificial Intelligence in fighting against the novel coronavirus infection and saving several thousands of lives, we tracked and compiled a list of leading tech companies across the world that are using AI to combat the spread of the COVID-19 infection and contain the same.
BlueDot is a disease analytical platform and it has recently signed a deal with the Government of Canada to track the spread of COVID-19. The Toronto-based startup has been in news since the outbreak of COVID-19 as it was one of the first companies in the world to identify the spread of the disease. The startup’s tracking platform picked up a cluster of cases around Wuhan, China on December 30, nine days before the World Health Organization released its statement alerting people to the emergence of COVID-19.
BlueDot, formerly known as BioDiaspora, was founded in 2008 and spun out of a partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and MaRS Innovation. The company, which rebranded in 2014, raised around €6 million in 2019, in a round co-led by Canadian insurance group The Co-operators and BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund. Also, the company was previously able to predict the outbreak of the Zika virus in Florida, six months before it occurred. Since its last funding round, the startup deployed its BlueDot Insights product, providing global infectious disease surveillance and early warning system in several hospitals across North America, 12 public health agencies around the world, and within Air Canada.
Infervision is a leading global high-tech enterprise in medical artificial intelligence. The company’s scientists and engineering teams have successfully launched the Coronavirus artificial intelligence (AI) solution; specially tailored for front-line use to help clinicians detect and monitor the disease efficiently and effectively. While physicians are working day and night, Infervision AI is helping manage the process efficiently; assisting with pneumonia marking, abnormal and severe case analysis, patient triage, medical resources coordination, prior case comparisons and treatment assessments.
Based in Beijing, Infervision was founded in 2015, has raised €63.4 million in startup financing and is working with more than 350 hospitals, 50 of which are outside of China.
Insilico Medicine (Hong Kong & US)
Longevity Vision Fund’s portfolio company Insilico Medicine operates with the mission to extend healthy longevity via innovative AI solutions for ageing research and drug discovery. The Hong Kong-based company aspires to be a leader in the industry of deep learning for drug discovery, anti-ageing interventions, and personalised healthcare.
Earlier this year, the company used the AI-based drug discovery platform to numerous novel molecules with the potential to block the ability of coronavirus to replicate. Insilico has synthesised two of the seven molecules and plans to put the same to test along with a pharmaceutical partner in the coming weeks. The company is actively investigating drugs that could improve the immune system of the elderly people so that they can respond to COVID-19 infection similar to younger people.
BenevolentAI is an advanced technology company focused on accelerating the journey from data to medicines. Researchers at the London-based startup have started exploring the use of available drugs to treat COVID-19 that has impacted the lives of several thousands of people across the world.
Founded in 2013, the UK startup has deployed AI to make vast amounts of public data to discover a drug that can be used to treat those affected by the disease. Within a few weeks of the outbreak, the company was able to deploy its predictive tools and suggest a slew of potentially helpful medicines such as baricitinib, which is a drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis. It can reduce the ability of the virus to affect the cells in lungs.
Deargen (South Korea)
Deargen is a South Korean that uses results from a deep learning-based model MT-DTI, which uses simplified chemical sequences instead of 2D or 3D molecular structures to predict how a molecule will bind to a target protein. As per the prediction from available FDA-approved antiviral drugs, atazanavir, the HTC medication is believed to bind and block protein on the outside of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus causing coronavirus infection. The model developed by Deargen also detected three other antivirals that have the potential to bind the virus.
SRI Biosciences and Iktos (US, France)
Iktos, a French AI startup has joined hands with SRI International (SRI), a research centre with its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The two companies have announced that they have entered into a collaboration agreement to accelerate drug discovery and development of antiviral therapies to treat coronavirus.
As per the collaboration, Iktos will combine its generative modeling technology with SRI’s SynFini, a fully automated end-to-end synthetic chemistry system. This combination will let the companies design novel and optimised compounds that will accelerate the discovery of drug candidates to treat multiple viruses such as coronavirus and influenza.
Stock photo from Hanna Karpiak/Shutterstock
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