The ongoing coronavirus epidemic propelled the need to combat the spread to the highest priority, as more and more countries fell victim to the virus. Different measures were taken to halt the spread, but detecting an ill person is still posing a challenge. With a new development in AI, however, a much faster way of diagnosing the infection has been made and can be used to alleviate pressure on hospitals.

In 20 seconds, suspected cases are detected

The company responsible for the development of this solution, Alibaba, is a giant in Chinese information technology solutions.Recently, it has been leaning towards medtech, at first developing a drug delivery service in February, as a means of alleviating hospital overcrowding. However, this was still a pretty big issue, and as such, Alibaba’s research team analyzed ways to take the pressure off of hospitals in terms of diagnosis. To this end, an AI algorithm  to analyze CT (computerized tomography) scans was made to differentiate people who are sick, are thought to be sick, and those who are healthy. Alibaba’s claim is that it can “identify (…) coronavirus-infected pneumonia within 20 seconds, with (an) accuracy rate up to 96%.”
It also differentiates between patients of ordinary pneumonia and those with the coronavirus type.

The system was crafted with the use of data and images of 5,000 coronavirus cases. It has been implemented in 26 hospitals in 16 provinces, and being used in  and plans are to make it accessible to over 100 hospitals that treat coronavirus-infected patients. Additionally, using thermal imaging for non-contact fever detection, it can accurately measure the temperature of a patient within an error of margin of 0,3 degrees Celsius. This can spot passersby who have higher body temperatures and refer them to get further testing.

Why this matters

Even a doctor specialized in diagnosis can take plenty of time to look through data before any conclusion is made. Looking through over 300 pages of scans and data sounds time-consuming, because it is, with 15 minutes being the minimum amount of time needed. With Alibaba’s solutions, this time is cut down drastically. This allows a quicker response in treating those who are carrying the virus, as well as taking in those who are suspected of being ill, to prevent carriers from infecting others. Such a fast response can slow down the spread of the coronavirus significantly. Add to that the readiness of having this AI solution implemented in many places at once, we could see a breakthrough with regards to how quickly a case of coronavirus can be detected in many places at the same time. By acting quickly to heal those who are sick and diagnosing purported cases, one can have hope for the halt of the spread.