How Artificial Intelligence is Impacting the Fight against Covid-19?

The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our lives is no longer in question; it is creeping into our daily routine. Today it makes our telephones talk, tomorrow it will drive us to our destinations and it only continues to develop. According to Norm Judah, former Microsoft’s Enterprise Chief Technology Officer, all sectors are and will be impacted by this revolution, including the health industry (Microsoft, 2018). Many levels of the health care system incorporate AI to improve processes and methods but can also face some challenges.

AI is currently playing a vital role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is particularly useful for:

  • Staying updated on the spread of the virus
  • Developing diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccinations
  • Supporting doctors and healthcare staff in their daily tasks

Tracking and monitoring the virus’ spread

AI has impressive analytical capabilities and is a valuable tool for finding patterns in viral propagation. In particular, forecasting the positive or negative progression of the number of Covid-19 cases based on information collected from social media, calls, and websites (NCBI, 2020). For instance, BlueDot, a Canadian AI-driven health surveillance software, predicted the pandemic by detecting a cluster of “unusual pneumonia” cases near Wuhan, China, nine days before the World Health Organization alerted the world (CNBC, 2020).

Additionally, AI supports the development of applications to increase the efficiency of the organisations monitoring tools and strategies. For instance, the UK government created the NHS COVID-19 tracing app and uses it as a tool to gather information, monitor the spread, and share Covid-19 related updates with users nationally.

Developing medical tools and solutions

AI techniques can be used to monitor patients, analyse their symptoms, and predict a course of treatment. They are particularly helpful in the research of early detection and treatment of potential patients. For example, the effectiveness of AI chest x-rays and CT scans – in comparison to the highly sensitive RT-PCR test – has been argued to differentiate Covid-19 from other types of pneumonia at an early stage (RSNA, 2020). Additionally, the development of vaccines for Covid-19 has been significantly accelerated by the use of machine learning.

Supporting medical staff

Contact between healthcare staff and contaminated patients has been reduced using AI. It powers robots and other systems that interact with patients to minimise human interactions (European Commission, 2021). It is also important to highlight the rapid development of telemedicine platforms using AI solutions.  Due to platforms like Doctorsfromhome or Immedicare, patients can video-chat or talk through their smartphones to practitioners without putting them at risk. In doing so, AI is accelerating the practice of remote medical consultation and supporting health professionals.

AI and the workforce’s limitation

Although AI offers huge positive developments to several industries, it is not used to its full potential due to the lack of a qualified workforce.  The AI market size is expected to develop significantly in the upcoming years, but the current pool of qualified AI professionals is not sufficient to take advantage of these new opportunities (Statista, 2020).

Becoming an AI qualified professional

“The UK AI Council has published an AI roadmap and recommended the UK government to scale up and commit to an AI skill-building programme to address skills shortages of AI professionals. MSc Artificial Intelligence Technology has been designed to accelerate skills and competencies in a range of job roles to meet the skills gap. “– Usman Butt, Programme Leader at Northumbria University London

Having specific qualifications can provide a significant competitive advantage to future workers who have the desire to pursue a career in AI. At Northumbria University London Campus, AI enthusiasts have the opportunity to study MSc Artificial Intelligence Technology with the additional option of Advanced Practice to gain real-world experience. These programmes have been developed to provide students with the necessary skills to become the qualified AI specialists’ organisations are looking for.

Head over to our course page or get in touch with the team to find out more.


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