The novel corona virus, also known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly throughout the world. Thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases occur daily, and thousands have died. Pharmaceutical companies and laboratories around the world are working tirelessly to develop medication and vaccines to help flatten the curve of this invasive pandemic. As the number of cases continues to climb, and the need for testing and treatment becomes dire, companies are relying on artificial intelligence to save lives.
Artificial Intelligence is defined by the Oxford dictionary as the use of computer systems to perform tasks that would typically use human intelligence (Artificial Intelligence, n.d.). The tasks that are being taken over by the computers are “visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” (Artificial Intelligence, n.d.). Those utilizing artificial intelligence are able to tap into large databases of research, national patient data, and trend reports to determine how humans will respond to illness, possible treatments, and to plot rates of transmission and recovery (Whyte, 2020).
The use of artificial intelligence has helped find new drugs to fight infection and create more targeted drugs for specific diseases and at-risk populations (Whyte, 2020). As scientists work to create new treatment regimens and vaccines for COVID-19, artificial intelligence can be used to track the progress, make alterations, and recruit new participants for testing (Whyte, 2020). Even more crucial, this technology can alert scientists to adverse effects of the new drugs being used (Whyte, 2020).
Seegene Inc founder/CEO, Chun Jong-yoon, and the executive director, Lee Dae-hoon, were prepared even before Covid-19 was deemed to be a pandemic (CNN, 2020). Once China started reporting mass cases of the corona virus throughout their country, the lead scientists at Seegene Inc., a Korean biotech company, decided that they needed to get to work to create and mass produce a laboratory test for COVID-19 (CNN, 2020). Calling in all scientists and persons with a PhD, Seegene was able to produce a testing kit for the virus in less than a months’ time (CNN).
The company uses several different technologies within one single test to be able to detect “multiple targets with high sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility” (HospiMedica, 2020). The company utilized artificial intelligence to create their test; in fact, they never even used a live sample of the virus (CNN, 2020). They relied on a blueprint that was put out by the World Health Organization and China as the virus started to pervade, which highlighted three specific genes of the virus on which the scientists were able to focus (CNN, 2020.). The use of artificial intelligence allowed this company to develop a test in under one month, when it would normally take several months to do so.
Due to the successful use of artificial intelligence, the government is now urging specialists in this field and technology companies to work together to come to a better understanding of this virus and how we can work to treat and stop it.
Artificial Intelligence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/artificial_intelligence
HospiMedica. (2020). Seegene launches KFDA-Approved COVID-19 assay. HospiMedica.com. Retrieved from https://www.hospimedica.com/coronavirus/articles/294781192/seegene-launches-kfda-approved-covid-19-assay.html
Whyte, J. (2020). New drugs are in the pipeline, and AI is helping. WebMD Blogs. Retrieved from https://blogs.webmd.com/webmd-doctors/20200102/new-drugs-are-in-the-pipeline-and-ai-is-helping
CNN. (2020). Inside the company that used AI to create a coronavirus test. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/03/12/south-korea-seegene-coronavirus-test-kit-watson-vpx.cnn