Experts turning to AI in the battle to combat Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

11 Mar 2020 8:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

As well as increasing the efficiency of organizations, Martin Belton explains how AI is helping us in the fight against coronavirus.


As fears over the Covid-19 coronavirus continue to grow, scientists are turning to artificial intelligence to help them understand more and combat it at every level. There are three areas that AI is helping us combat Covid-19:

  1. Revealing patterns of infections to inform citizens and public policy
  2. Provide diagnosis quickly and effectively to quarantine and treat those infected
  3. Develop treatments and vaccines and then evaluate their effectiveness

Online technologies have already helped organisations to compile a number of online resources which provide up-to-date information about the disease. These include Healthmap from Oxford University and John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

And AI is already helping us to understand how we can reduce the spread of Covid-19. In the UK for example, the BBC modeled data on infectious diseases using virtually infected mobile phones. It was this that helped to validate the now widespread and accepted advice that by washing our hands thoroughly, we can dramatically slow the spread of Covid-19.


AI has also played a pivotal role to help us understand this initial outbreak. One of the first organisations to identify this a new medical issue was Canadian infectious disease specialists Blue Dot. By using a combination of medical and airline data, their machine learning algorithms picked up information in Chinese about an unknown pneumonia centered around the market in Wuhan. Their team quickly recognized there were parallels to the SARS outbreak 17 years earlier. This helped us understand the risks involved; how contagious the disease might be and the wider risk to human life.

Other organizations are using AI to predict how the Covid-19 might be affected by seasonality. In the Northern hemisphere, upper respiratory pneumonias and viruses peak in the winter months, but then decline. AI is already being used to help us predict how the warmer summer weather might combat this spread.

But there is more to the contribution of AI than just tracking the virus. AI can also contribute to the creation of the vaccine as well as other drugs. It does this by providing a better understanding the mechanism of the disease. By correlating data on drugs, illnesses and their outcomes, AI can dramatically improve the amount of information on offer. This data, covering diseases, vaccines, symptoms and more is then crunched together to form new patterns and relationships which can then reveal surprising new information.


One result of this testing and searching is that, instead of looking for and creating new viral drugs to cure the disease, AI has identified potential existing drugs which may combat the disease. One drug in particular may be able to both inhibit the spread and reduce the effects of the disease on the lungs (the most common cause of death from the virus). Typically used to deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis, the drug must still be tested and approved before it can be used to combat Covid-19.

AI can also be used to understand the genetic sequence of a disease. That is where it’s come from and where it’s going to in the future. This can also be used to combat the spread of the disease.

AI cannot yet just be used to find a direct and immediate cure for the disease, however, it will be essential in evaluating proposed therapies to speed those to market. And let us take a moment to thank all of the human scientists, using their talents, to inform us in the short term, cure us in the medium term and keep us safe for the long term.

About the Talent Transformation Guild

The Talent Transformation Guild provides resources for professionals that are preparing for upskilling being triggered by 4th industrial revolution and accelerated by Covid-19. Members include c-level executives, human resource professionals, consultants, and coaches. As a member-driven organization it promotes best practices via webcasts, webinars, podcasts, articles, white papers, research and conversations to improve and make the best of the talents of individuals for the benefit of themselves and the organisations they work for.

The Guild enable stimulating and meaningful discussions to help professionals prepare for talent transformations at individual, team and organizational levels. The Guild supports the Talent Transformation Pyramid, an open source model, designed specifically to recognize the widest possible range of talent influencers and skills. To date many decision-makers are caught in traditional, linear thinking and immediate concerns to consider this. The Talent Transformation Pyramid enables you to address the challenge by promoting more strategic thinking with a focus on an organization’s readiness to perform. https://www.talenttransformation.com/

About the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum, new and emerging technologies are affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This new era will build and extend the impact of digitization in new and unimaginable ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving new capabilities for people and machines. This will see new ways for technology to become embedded within societies and even our bodies.

With process automation, robotic automation, the internet of things the nature of work will change. Some analysts predict that more than 40% of tasks currently performed by humans will be delegated to machines. This does not mean that 40% of people will be put out of work but it does mean that most workers will have to upskill. HR experts are predicting this will dramatically change the landscape of our workforce.


About the Guild's Founders

Eric Shepherd is an accomplished leader of international businesses and associations focused on talent, assessments, and success. Eric recently stepped away from a CEO role where he worked to build a SaaS company into a multi-million-dollar international assessment software business. Eric has also led industry and standards initiatives to promote best practices for assessments, learning, and interoperability. He served on the HR Open Standards Consortium to further the goals of open, transparent and trusted approach for HR data standards development. Eric was instrumental in developing the IMS QTI interoperability standard and assisted with the US Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative to define the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) to define launch and track standards for Learning Management Systems.

Martin Belton has provided marketing solutions to organizations supplying HR and Learning solutions throughout Europe. After working with some of the UK’s leading PR Consultancies, he joined Questionmark where he was Sales and Marketing Director working alongside Talent Transformation’s co-founder Eric Shepherd. He was also Sales & Marketing Director at Kallidus (formerly e2train) for seven years before working as a marketing consultant to organizations supplying talent and learning systems including Netex and Saba. Most recently Martin has organized the eLearning Network Annual conference and exhibition.

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