By Argie C. Aguja
Features Writer, The Philippine STAR

Since the coronavirus disease 20019 (COVID-19) was first reported in China in late 2019, it has managed to reachmore than 100 countries, infecting over 1.9 million people, with 120, 434 deaths (as of April 14). As a result, governments around the world are in a race against time to stem the rising number of active cases and prevent more fatalities: even if it means wreaking havoc on the daily life of billionsthroughschool and work cancellations, harsh lockdowns, forced border closures, nightly curfews, and transportation stoppages.

In the global stage, academics and researchers from the entire scientific community place their confidence in various tech innovations, a set of promising keys that can help mankind unlock this puzzling pandemic once and for all. Here are examples on how artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud technology,and robotics are being used around the world to fight COVID-19.

Pinoys develop AI chat bot

The all-Filipino development team at Whiz Philippines developed and launched a free chatbot AI called Suitable Aid for Medical needs (SAM)–NCOV Bot PH. This AI-powered tool will automatically answer relevant questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, 24/7. By engaging with the AI chat bot, users can determine the best course of action, given the symptoms they may be experiencing. Developers are currently translating the AI process into 16+ Philippine local dialects. For more details, visit

AI-powered patient analysis

Huawei is currently offering its Huawei Cloud AI-assisted diagnosis for COVID-19, a system that uses AI to examines coronavirus lung infections based on a patient’s computer tomography (CT) scan. This can help doctors distinguish between early, advanced, and severe cases with an accuracy of 98 percent. To make the evaluation, partner hospitals must upload the CT scan of a patient to Huawei’s cloud service.

Google use machine learning

Google’s DeepMind division is using machine learning to analyze the structure of some proteins behind the coronavirus. Using more than six decades of scientific knowledge and curated data, DeepMind hopes to understand the three-dimensional shapes of COVID-19 proteins, which could aid scientists in coming up with a vaccine. Its predictive capabilities were also used to suggest existing drugs that might be useful in treating patients.

AI-powered fever detector and face recognition

SenseTime, a leading AI firm in China, has developed a contactless temperature detection software that scans crowds to detect people with fever, recognize their faces and identify those not wearing masks. The sophisticated system also keeps tabs on infected individuals and checks if they are following quarantine instructions.

Drones deliver medical supplies

Japanese company Terra Drone Corp. is using its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transport medical samples and quarantine materials between Xinchang County’s disease control center and the People’s Hospital. By using drones, delivery time was shortened by 50 percent compared to road travel, using less manpower and hospital resources.

Outbreak forecast using software

Canadian tech start-up BlueDot was among the first to discover how AI can detect the path of an impending outbreak. Using AI to craft proprietary models,BlueDot’soutbreak risk software was able to give advanced warning to governments, hospitals, and airlines about the spread and trajectory of COVID-19 infections.

Real time video conference, translation via cloud

Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, offered medical personnel around the world free use of the DingTalk International Medical Expert Communication Platform. Hosted in the cloud, this video conferencing tool provides real-time AI translation into 11 languages (Arabic, Bahasa, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese) so that Chinese doctors can share their experiences and answer questions from global peers.

Self-driving disinfection robots

Danish start-up Blue Ocean Robotics deployed self-driving UVD Robots to automate disinfection procedures in hospitals of more than 40 countries. These disinfection robots that use ultraviolet (UV) light to kill viruses and bacteria, thereby curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Protective fabric from nanoparticles

Israeli firmSonoviadeveloped an anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric made out of metal-oxide nanoparticles from zinc oxide and copper oxide. The fabric is now undergoing further tests and if successful, can be used to makereusable medical masks, protective clothing, hospital beddings, and gowns.

Supercomputers solve scientific calculations

COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium Group uses a network of 30 supercomputers with a combined performance of 400 petaflops to help scientists analyze and calculate demanding mathematical processes and scientific models, tasks that would otherwise take a long time to finish.

As the world reels from the effects of COVID-19, mankind’s various technological advances shine a ray of light — a dose of much-needed hope in these uncertain times.