If there were a list of most hyped yet grossly misunderstood trends over this century, AI would probably top the list, followed by ‘digital transformation’ and Pineapple on Pizza (yes or no, you tell us). People & Businesses alike are both intrigued & confounded by AI, often not understanding the potential & impact that AI is capable of. To this effect, we introduce Analyzing AI, our series on how AI is driving impact/innovation in scale across different fields. This article will talk about how AI has helped the fight against Covid-19 in many ways.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused around 200 million cumulative casualties worldwide as of late January 2021, disrupting life and business as we know it. It caught the healthcare industry off-guard, pushing them to develop accurate solutions as fast as possible. AI helped this become a reality by aiding Organizations, pharmaceutical companies, scientists, researchers, and governments worldwide to conquer various aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, including epidemiology, molecular research and drug development, medical diagnosis and treatment, and socioeconomics. Let’s delve into two specific cases where AI has had the most profound impact:

Vaccine Development process:

Generally, the vaccine development process followed by clinical trials and market launch takes several years and even decades to complete. However, with Covid-19, the stakes were high, with millions of people losing their lives and billions losing their livelihood. The pressure was on to come up with vaccines that were effective and developed fast. 

How did AI help with Covid-19 Vaccine development?

In theory, the vaccine development process is pretty straightforward- identify the virus, extract the inactive proteins that generate the immune response, and voila! There you have a vaccine! But in reality, it is a very complex & intricate process in figuring out which specific parts of the virus have to be exposed to the antibodies and then extract the proteins. So once the scientists collected the viral protein data, they compared it with data collected by researchers years on typical viral properties that trigger the antibodies to predict these for the Covid-19. Without the power of AI to analyze millions of data points & point out relevant research data insights, the process would have taken years, with the possibility of human error.

Even after the clinical trials, it usually takes more than a month to clear the patient data so that scientists can analyze the results. The manual process is tedious for the data scientists to check for inconsistencies and errors in the database having millions of data points. However, AI & Machine learning tools carried out the analysis and made the data available for the scientists in less than 24 hours. Companies like Pfizer & Moderna leveraged AI to create vaccines with over 90% accuracy in just a little over a year.

AI & Covid-19 Vaccine distribution process

Due to the sheer scale of Covid-19 infections globally and complex healthcare supply chain, vaccine rollout globally has been nothing short of a puzzle. The colossal volume of logistics of deciding who gets the Vaccine when and then ensuring this process is seamless was overwhelming for front-line workers, Hospitals & Govts all over. The distribution has to be organized on a macro level and grassroots so that people who need the Vaccine the most can get it first.

AI has helped solve this by factoring in thousands of inputs like mobility data, hospital utilization, current infection rates, residents’ demographics, and history of infections. It then can forecast where the vaccines can have a maximum impact.

AI-driven chatbots have been instrumental in unloading weight off the overloaded front-line workers when it comes to individual appointments. From sending customized messages to motivate & inform citizens about the Covid-19 symptoms, impact & vaccination process, AI chatbots also help citizens to analyze their symptoms and approach a healthcare professional when needed. They also facilitate appointment timings for the Vaccine based on the availability of staff, Vaccine, social distancing measures & more to provide the right appointment slots for over 330 million people in the US alone. AI-based chatbots and assistants helped book over 60% of the entire vaccination appointments. Our healthcare professionals could then focus on saving lives- not winding up red tape.


AI is often accused of being something that is too theoretical or out of a fantasy. But in situations where millions of data parameters are to be analyzed with accurate predictive insights quickly, there is no alternative as suited as AI. 

For healthcare, Key clinical health AI applications have demonstrated the potential to create annual savings of USD 150 billion for the healthcare economy in the US by 2026.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the policymakers, clinicians, and researchers again that the adoption of powerful technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning needs to be encouraged & accelerated for achieving remarkable results within a short time. 

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