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Using AI tools to help fight against COVID-19

Mounir Jamil



Inside Look into AI Tools against COVID-19

Prior to the world being even aware of the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus, artificial intelligence (AI) systems had already successfully detected an outbreak of an unknown type of pneumonia in China. As the coronavirus spread, AI tools have been deployed to support the efforts made by the medical community, policy makers and society at large to manage the stages of the crisis and its aftermath.

Using AI to understand and treat COVID-19
AI tools can help the medical community and policymakers understand the COVID-19 virus further and accelerate research in treatments via rapidly analyzing big volumes of research data. Furthermore, data mining tools and AI text can reveal the virus’ history, diagnostics, transmission, management measures and can give lessons from past epidemics.

Deep learning models have the ability to predict old and new drugs and treatments that might be successful in treating coronavirus. Several institutions are utilizing AI to identify treatments and develop prototype vaccines.

Dedicated platforms allow the sharing and consolidation of multidisciplinary expertise on AI. The US government has started a dialogue with international government science leaders that include utilizing AI in accelerating the analysis of coronavirus literature that is made available using the Kaggle Platform.

Furthermore, computing power for AI is also being made available by technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and individuals donating computer processing power, alongside public-private efforts like the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium and AI for Health.

Using AI in the diagnosis, detection, and prevention of COVID-19
AI can also be employed to help detect, diagnose and prevent the spread of the virus. Algorithms that identify patterns and anomalies are already working to detect and predict the spread of COVID-19, while image recognition systems are speeding up medical diagnosis. For example:

AI against COVID-19 can also be used to diagnose, detect, and prevent the spread of the virus. Algorithms can identify anomalies and patterns and they are already working on detecting and predicting the spread of the virus, all while image recognition systems are speeding up medical diagnosis.

Early warning systems powered by AI, can help detect epidemiological patterns by mining mainstream news, and online content with other information channels in multiple languages to provide early warnings. These early warnings complement syndromic surveillance and other healthcare networks and data flows.

AI tools also identify virus transmission chains and monitor broader economic impacts. AI technologies have demonstrated their potential in inferring epidemiological data more rapidly than other traditional reporting methods.

Rapid diagnosis is another of the AI tools against COVID-19, and it is the key to limiting contagion and understanding how the virus spreads.

Furthermore semi-autonomous drones and robots are being used to respond to the immediate needs of hospitals such as delivering medicine, equipment and food, sterilizing, cleaning and aiding medical staff.


Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.


The pandemic’s hidden digital divide

Mounir Jamil



Digital Divide

The current pandemic has really opened our eyes to the importance of interconnectivity. Lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines helped us realize how our progress and prosperity is a function dependent upon one other, and we can clearly see this on an individual-micro level and on a group-macro level (companies, groups, governments).

The larger the company, the more complex the ecosystem of partners and their interdependence. Studies show that this is particularly true in developing countries where brewing beer sustains millions of livelihoods dependent on a fragmented and traditional trade such as corner shops, grocery stores and small retail.

Naturally, as a company grows larger, a more complex ecosystem of partners is required, but what about smaller micro retailers? The current pandemic has shed light on a critical weakness for small retailers. In most developed countries, the general consensus is that citizens enjoy high speed internet access therefore transitioning a business from brick-and-mortar to online seems relatively straightforward (with some training and practice). However, when we look at other countries where Wi-Fi is not as readily available, or when citizens have to walk lengthy distances to access Wi-Fi, that’s when you understand the daily impact of the digital divide.

As the pandemic continues, access to technology becomes another source of vulnerability and inequality as smaller retailers struggle to make the shift to digital, which only makes it harder for them to deliver across their value chain. Businesses that played vital roles in their communities are now unable to meet the growing demands online.

The pandemic has forced us to face the issue of the digital divide; while some might think we are all moving toward a digitally enabled future, the reality is that there are many communities across the world still falling behind. The issue of what needs to be done rests in the hands of governments and leaders worldwide to ensure that digital inclusion is extended to all citizens and disadvantaged groups.

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UK to rollout first-round of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Mounir Jamil



Pfizer BioNtech

The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently gave the green light to rollout the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for commercial use in the UK.

The first batch of vaccines are already making their way to the UK, with 800,000 units expected in the coming days. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said that the NHS will do its part in contacting people for the vaccine shot.

Based on vaccine storage requirements (-70°C), hospitals will be the first to receive supplies since they already have the correct storage facilities; the first round will likely take place in hospitals for care home staff, NHS staff and patients.

While the typical vaccine usually takes 10 years to be fully accepted, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was developed and introduced in just 10 months.

The UK has ordered enough units to vaccinate 20 million people – around 40 million doses in total. These doses will be given out as soon as they are made available by Pfizer in Belgium. The first round is expected next week, and “several millions” will be made available throughout December said Hancock. He also added that the majority of the rollout will take place next year.

The vaccine will be free, and it will not be mandatory. In addition, there are 3 ways of vaccinating citizens in the UK

  • Vaccination Centers
  • Hospitals
  • In the community, with general practitioners and pharmacists

As we speak, 50 hospitals are on stand-by and vaccination centers in venues like conference centers or sport stadiums are now being set up. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will hopefully mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

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New technology has made COVID-19 group tests possible

Adnan Kayyali



COVID-19 group tests

An independent technology and product development company, The Technology Partnership (TTP) has developed CoTest, a pooled screening device for conducting COVID-19 group tests. 

The vaccine is coming but when and who will get it first still remains unclear, but what is for sure is that testing cannot stop now, or in the next year at the very least. TTP states that their solution allows tests to be done on up to 40 people at a time, revealing the result within 30 minutes.

The equipment used for testing is reportedly easy to handle – samples are taken the conventional way, through a nasal or oral swab.

“We believe this technology represents an important step forward in distributed screening capacity, reducing the risk of transmission and allowing organizations to take greater control over their health security, stay open and relieve pressure on central services”.

Given the easy use and transportation of the CoTest, businesses and institutions of all kinds may want to get their hands on it. Essentially the COVID-19 group tests are just one test, but for up to 40 people at a time. This is an empowering level of efficiency that can take the load off central testing centers and labs while providing a more immediate response.

“With support, it’s entirely possible that ‘CoTest’ could be in schools and businesses and being used as a key tool in how we manage the virus.” said Peter Crossley, product development lead at TTP. The cost efficiency of this technology becomes increasingly powerful as infection rates decrease and health security monitoring becomes key.”

TTP is seeking more partners to push their new COVID-19 group test solution, which could prove to be a crucial tool in the coming months and years. While the world waits for a vaccine, we will have to continue finding ways of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

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