Disruptive technologies are being called to action by Covid-19. Without the standards of the technology we are already blessed with, it is likely that we would have all been far worse off, and thanks to our latest technological breakthroughs, we have plenty of power to fight back.
Mapping and Monitoring
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one technology that is playing a significant role in tackling Covid-19. At present one of our best strategies is the monitoring of the spread, contact tracing, and maintaining good social distancing standards. AI has the capacity to do all of the above, all the while allowing for remote data analysis across many healthcare applications.
Earlier in April, the Israeli Ministry of Health leveraged an AI-based triage platform from a domestic company called Diagnostic Robotics. Reportedly, the company adjusted its platform to create analytics, risk assessment, and prediction models specifically for Covid-19.
This scheme was rolled out nationwide, monitoring coronavirus-related symptoms daily. The platform analyzes patient symptoms, underlying health issues, and then the AI builds a risk profile as well as offering guidance for what to do next with a patient.
This is, however, a team effort; medical staff get patients/clients to fill out a questionnaire via text message, and by doing so, the remote screening process is able to create a continuous, large-scale assessment of the pandemic in real-time.
The platform also delivers “red flag” information to health authorities, which identifies coronavirus hotspots, creating opportunities for medical services to be as efficient as they can be as they’ll be able to identify and prioritize regions in need.
In Vancouver, Canada, AbCellera Biologics became the first North American company to receive a Covid-19 blood sample – within days the firm had identified approximately 500 antibodies that have the potential to treat Covid19 and is the largest number of antibodies discovered ever to be reported. In those days, the team screened over five million immune cells, and two days later these antibody-secreting cells were sequenced, leading to the massive uncovering of 500 antibody candidates.
The process moved so quickly in fact, that AbCellera sought out a drug development company so that tests and treatments could be produced as soon as possible, with a contract signed within 10 days.
AbCellera is a leading group within the Pandemic Prevention Platform Program, which was initially launched by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a means to combat unknown pathogens within 60 days.
AbCellera uses cutting-edge technologies like AI, genomics, big data and single-cell analysis to accomplish their aims, and if anything, the rapid success of their screening process goes to show not only how effective these technologies are, but how fortunate the world at large is for having such innovations in place.
In times of crisis and when there is a common enemy, the efforts of humanity are something to behold. This is especially true on the technological fringes where nascent and complex technologies that are yet to be understood in full, are being sent to the frontline of one of our greatest challenges yet.