With the help of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), several working vaccine candidates against COVID-19 have been developed and are now being administered to speed up the return to normalcy. This speed in the development of the vaccine has never been seen before. AI has also played a crucial role in improving patient testing, treatment, and vaccination. Although we cannot say with certainty when we will return to normalcy due to the mutating nature of the virus, I can say with authority that the response and the vaccine rollout have been nothing short of extremely fast. However, this calls for sustained efforts from all players to ensure that everyone gets vaccinated and risks are reduced.
The role of technology in the entire cannot be stressed enough. Robotics, for example, became a crucial part of minimizing contact between the healthcare staff and the patients. This minimized infections and protected the front-line healthcare workers. Although the application of robotics in healthcare is in its initial stages, the development and deployment should be hastened to help in future disasters as it has shown its potential during the pandemic.
The development of machine learning (ML) models to aid in diagnosing COVID-19 was the biggest improvement. AI techniques were not only used to detect the infections but are also currently used to monitor patients in a clinical setting and predict if a specific course of treatment is working or not. Based on data obtained from statistics and clinical parameters, Artificial Intelligence may offer important information with the help of analytics that can be used in resource allocation and decision-making. Now and in the future, AI can be used to predict COVID-19 patient recovery or mortality chances. It will also offer updates and trend analysis on the treatments.
Artificial intelligence was used to detect and quantify COVID-19 cases from chest x-ray and CT scan images. Various deep learning models that have been developed help in detecting and differentiating COVID-19 from pneumonia. This aside, machine learning, a subset of AI, holds a promise in drug testing and repurposing. Machine learning in studying past literature and gathering information might be useful in developing vaccines or cures. AI is suited for searching large databases and combining data from different sources.
Although human professionals will make the final decision on which drugs are to be developed and which ones should go to trial, AI will play a critical role in identifying the potential cures and treatments for the disease. This will significantly reduce the burden from medical professionals whose main work will be to perform trials based on computer models and existing data obtained by AI and machine learning algorithms. Apart from speeding up vaccine development through research, AI models can help simulate randomized clinical trials on drug repurposing by processing the existing data such as medical records and insurance claims.
In a nutshell, the battle with the pandemic would have been tougher and longer without artificial intelligence. The possibilities that this technology provides to healthcare are endless. Even after the pandemic, we will still see various AI applications in diagnosing and treating other diseases such as cancer.