AI, 5G help fight coronavirus epidemic in China

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/2 20:49:07

Photo: Xinhua

As China continues to battle an outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, some of the cutting-edge technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G came in handy in the nationwide fight to contain the virus-caused crisis.

On Saturday, the Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in East China's Zhejiang Province announced it has used AI computing technologies to shorten the time needed for analyzing the gene of the virus on suspected cases to just half an hour from a few hours before.

Logo of Alibaba Group Photo: IC

The AI technologies developed by scientists at ecommerce giant Alibaba Group's Damo Academy also allows for comprehensive sequencing of the whole genome of the coronavirus said to be one of the most complicating and fast-evolving viruses. The breakthrough significantly improves the efficiency of detecting new cases of infection and paves the way for research and development (R&D) of vaccines and medicines, according to the Zhejiang CDC.

Alibaba's cloud division announced last week that it would provide its AI computing capabilities for the R&D over the coronavirus, which has killed more than 300 people and infected over 14,000 more as of Sunday morning. 

Baidu Inc, the Chinese search engine giant, also announced last week that it would make available its gene sequencing algorithm to scientists for studying the virus. Baidu’s AI algorithm improves the analysis speed of the secondary structure prediction for the 2019-nCoV RNA sequence by as much as 120 times, according to some media reports.
Both companies have been working in bio-computing for years.

AI computing capabilities could also be used to track the epidemic and to make predictions about its development. AI could process massive data about travel of people suspected of having come in contact with the virus, according to experts.

Another technology that is widely believed to change lives - 5G has also been very helpful for Chinese doctors on the frontline to contain the viral onslaught. Several provinces, including Zhejiang and Southwest China's Sichuan Province, have used 5G-powered telecommunication equipment to conduct diagnosis of coronavirus infection cases and treatment online.

The use of 5G technologies in diagnosing people infected with the coronavirus improve efficiency of the process and allow for more time for treating the patients infected by the coronavirus. It also helps avoid doctors being infected while diagnosing or treating suspected cases or confirmed patients.

To ensure proper communication capabilities, 5G base stations have also been built at two new hospitals specifically for coronavirus-infected patients in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, according to media reports.

Global Times


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