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How AI can help us fight COVID-19


The novel coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, launching new assaults on precarious healthcare systems, putting geopolitical institutions in peril, challenging old assumptions for businesses large and small, and fracturing already stumbling economies.

A sharp influx in cases peaking now over 3 million, and having caused over 2 lakh deaths worldwide, holds to account inaction and inefficiencies on the part of governments and organizations. The apocalyptic speed of the contagion has put a lens on our collective vulnerabilities.

With most businesses scrambling to survive amid lockdowns and billions of people being confined into quarantines, the pandemic is forcing us to reconsider and reimagine everything in our lives and innovate, if it takes so, to weather the crisis.

As cities and communities skid to a halt to prevent further spread, researchers, hospitals, governments, and organizations find themselves outpaced by the virus in their abilities to diagnose and provide treatment. A shortage of testing kits and ineffective quarantine strategies are debilitating healthcare professionals and other frontline workers in their extraordinary efforts and unparalleled commitment to helping a stuttering world.

History has shown us the potential of pandemics for exploiting and limiting the human capacity for growth down to the detriment of society. And we could be living through a time that ends up testing our bitterest resolves collectively as a species. But humans have a history of rescuing themselves from a tragic denouement, and today, tech can serve as our weaponry.

Here’s how Collaborative AI can help right now:

1. Spreading awareness and reducing fear

Spreading awareness and reducing fear using AI chatbot

The lack of clarity has distilled into anxiety and fear around the virus among people across geographies. Large swathes of the public have been seeking immediate assistance with regard to consumer services and recommendations for taking care of their physical and mental health.

Requests in amplified numbers have inundated customer service portals of businesses and organizations across sectors and industries like airlines, events, travel, sports, etc. for postponement and cancellations. Amid the rising panic, various outfits on social media are breeding misinformation and fake news, which is misleading people regarding the outbreak, and its symptoms, risks, and statistics.

Conversational AI chatbots can help contain the threat of paranoia by being able to instantly provide people with reliable answers and recommendations on best practices to follow, 24/7.

Scalable AI can help us fight COVID-19. AI chatbots can serve as remote communication tools for medical teams and governments to keep the general public updated with the news evolving around the virus in real-time. Multilingual chatbots can connect with people in their native languages to offer empathy, advice, and support. Interacting with such intuitive chatbots can help people feel they are being heard and cared for in the time of a crisis.

Besides ensuring that the information is accurate, the chatbots have their communications tailored to the needs of various different groups. They are capable of providing targeted information relevant to each individual’s unique healthcare needs.

Moreover, they can instantly connect users to law-enforcement personnel, emergency healthcare networks, and security via text, voice, and location at any moment. Their additional capabilities for Sentiment Analysis can help them detect the severity and emotion of the contacting individual and act accordingly. 

These AI-powered chatbots can quickly resolve mass queries in an instant, unlike customer support agents that might find it hard to make themselves available for each and every request owing to the sheer overwhelming numbers.

2. Aiding decentralized data collection

In these seismically shifting times, a significant number of individuals are willing to share their private data with the authorities if it helps them track and contain the spread of the pandemic. Many countries are urging their citizens to install apps that alert users if they are in the vicinity of locations visited by coronavirus carriers.

People are willing to prioritize safety over privacy and submit their data to these authorities because this data, when parsed by intelligent AI, can help them identify common symptoms of the virus and its high-risk outbreak clusters and take appropriate measures.

Intelligent AI chatbots can help local healthcare organizations, governments, and researchers gather this invaluable data. They can also help in mapping the outbreak on national and global levels and help local resources learn and share information from globalized datasets. By doing so, they can empower organizations with in-depth insights into the latest developments around the virus and channel care and resources accordingly.

3. Enabling remote self-diagnosis

Aiding decentralized data collection using AI chatbot

Even as an increasing number of people go through the testing procedure, the longer they await diagnosis, the less likely the tests are to be accurate. That could lead to thousands of people being misled into believing otherwise, when they could be asymptomatic vectors, unknowingly advancing the outbreak. AI could help medical professionals pace up those diagnoses and save lives.

On the other hand, these chatbots can interact remotely with symptomatic people who may have contracted the virus, and can, thus, serve as autonomous frontline diagnostic tools.

By enabling remote diagnosis, they can prevent exposure for both vulnerable or affected individuals and healthcare professionals and aid social distancing. Laterally, this can also reduce the strain on resources such as masks and other protective gear that are already stretched thin.

These highly scalable chatbots automatically follow up with targeted groups of users, post-diagnosis, based on aggregated symptom timelines, and can help the authorities in the assessment of potential outbreak clusters.

4. Empowering support workers by auto-addressing repetitive FAQs

As hospitals and their contact lines get swamped by the exponentially rising number of coronavirus-related inquiries, AI-driven chatbots can help reduce the strain on overburdened support workers by addressing repetitive FAQs.

These smart chatbots can detect the consultations they can handle and automatically transfer the remaining more complicated ones to dedicated support agents for person-to-person interaction.

These AI chatbots can be trained to quickly answer predictable queries surrounding COVID-19, provide relevant information and expert advice, as well as guide users on whether they need to self-quarantine or, in the extreme cases, seek professional help at a nearby medical service. By automating responses related to transactional work like appointment rescheduling, verification of lab results, reviewing of healthcare plans, etc. with the help of AI, organizations can save time and multiply the strength of their resources in such taxing times.

5. Categorizing low, medium, and high-risk groups for more effective combat plans

Categorizing low, medium, and high-risk groups for more effective combat plans using AI

Intelligent AI chatbots can help organizations incorporate tiered escalation systems surrounding COVID-19. The bots can categorize symptoms by severity into various risk groups such as low-, medium-, and high-risk patients and escalate individual cases to support professionals as needed. The categorization of symptoms also creates an opportunity to develop symptom timelines. These timelines and location-based outbreak data can be used by hospitals to prepare systemic plans for new cases, well in advance, and combat the virus effectively.