Antivirus software has long been used to help computers and networks around the world. But what if we could develop antivirus software to help humans as well?

Countries are turning to technology to manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. By using new tools and techniques, scientists and researchers have been able to successfully develop ways to help control the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Temperature screening devices, smartphone apps, artificial intelligence (AI) teachers and express testing kits are just some of the innovations. Let’s take a look at how innovation is creating new options in four different countries around the world.

1.Singapore
Singapore was able to develop an AI temperature screening system that worked five times faster than conventional manual screening. According to Mobi Health News, the iThermo Device, developed collectively by KroniKare and the Integrated Health Information System (IHIS), was created in 2 weeks and is able to screen up to 10 people in a single frame.

Using thermal and 3D cameras, the AI application detects the human forehead from facial features and measures its temperature. Leveraging pre-existing technology and partnering with IHIS, KroniKare could work in an agile way and develop this system in weeks.

2. Taiwan
Taiwan has used AI and big data to create population density maps, which help predict the spread of the virus. Using anonymised data from Facebook, researchers from the National Tsing Hua University were able to pinpoint vulnerable populations and focus their efforts on those areas.

Audrey Tang, the digital minister of Taiwan, has worked closely with software engineers to create alerts for high-risk areas to be avoided. She also worked with a team to build a real-time digital map of mask supplies around the country to keep the citizens informed.

Taiwan is using big data analytics to comb through its databases and identify cases as soon as they are reported. By getting real-time updates from its health insurance and immigration databases, the country has been able to track the travel history and impose quarantines on travelers from high-risk countries.

3. The United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, scientists used AI to research the virus and make predictions to aid in developing a cure. They also looked at the structure of the virus so they can quickly understand how it works and what can be done to eliminate it.

The British Government has also announced plans to offer AI teachers to students who are forced to miss school due to the COVID-19, said The Telegraph. The tool, developed by a start-up in London, Century Tech, will be able to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of students and make adjustments to learning plans accordingly.

4. South Korea
A South Korean research company used an AI-based big data system to develop a COVID-19 testing kit in 3 weeks. Molecular biotech company Seegene was able to quickly research and develop the testing kit, a process that would normally take 2 to 3 months.

The government has also developed a smartphone app to monitor citizens to ensure they are not breaking quarantine, stated the MIT Technology Review. The multiuse app developed by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety will allow citizens in quarantine to update officials on the status of their symptoms and alert case officers if they breach their quarantine zones.

Future of combating epidemics

The speed and ferocity with which epidemics have been spreading in recent times is something that is only expected to intensify in the future, according to the Washington Post. The emergence of old and new viruses means that technology needs to keep up to combat these new epidemics.

Just as antivirus software scans, reports on and repairs your computer, AI can do the same to help the world predict, prevent and cure upcoming epidemics in the future.