IT developments in the Fight Against Covid-19

There are about 200 countries and territories on the planet where the virus was detected ⏤ almost the whole world is fighting against this new disease.

Worldometer portal provides figures and the statistics page on the distribution of COVID-19. The gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com portal also provides figures on coronavirus cases, where updated statistics are published in real-time by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Today the whole world is confronting the new challenge of mankind ⏤  2019-nCoV. Research institutes on all continents have been working day and night for the third month to find a solution to this problem. Doctors in hospitals in countries where the spread of the virus has gained momentum risk their lives every day. Economics experts make disappointing forecasts. But the question of how do technologies help deal with the spread of the virus still remains relevant.

Current Situation: COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a whole family of viruses, mainly affecting animals and only in some cases are transmitted to humans. In mammals and birds, coronaviruses can lead to damage to the liver, nervous system, but most often the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. Most of these viruses are not dangerous to humans, and the diseases they cause occur without serious complications.

Nevertheless, in this family, there are distinguished species dangerous to humans, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV, MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV, aka TORS-coronavirus), which can lead to adverse outcomes. Now the coronavirus from Wuhan has also been added to this list. Its name is COVID-19, or 2019-nCoV.

What is the name "coronavirus" connected with? The fact is that coronaviruses are RNA viruses, their nucleocapsid contains glycoproteins, which are similar in shape to spikes, due to which the virus visually resembles a corona.

More than 4 million 43 thousand people all over the world have already recovered from the disease provoked by the new coronavirus. However, more than 300 thousand people died. Of these, a significant portion falls on the United States (more than 117 thousand victims), Brazil (almost 43 thousand), and the UK (more than 41.6 thousand).

Currently, there are over 3 million 397 thousand active cases of COVID-19 disease on the planet, of which about 2% are people in serious and critical condition (i.e., about 54 thousand people).

Meanwhile, the situation in several European countries, which became centers of a pandemic in the spring of 2020, is noticeably improving. In May, the quarantine regime has been weakened in Italy, the UK, Spain, and other countries. Even in the USA, the leader in terms of the number of infected, it is allowed to walk in the streets and even hold rallies. The authorities took these steps, not only because the epidemiological situation now allows it, but first of all because the closure of enterprises has a severe effect on the economy. And people are psychologically extremely tired of living in a regime of self-isolation and fear.

The most pressing issue today is the speedy development of a vaccine and the development of the so-called collective immunity by the population. Hundreds of the world's leading laboratories are working on the vaccine now. Some countries have begun testing new drugs. According to experts, the long-awaited vaccine can go to clinics already in the fall.

How IT-Giants Help Defeat Coronavirus: Direct Help

It isn’t a secret that many IT companies have decided to help society to cope with pandemic. More often than not, such help isn’t related only to developing proper solutions and software. Companies contribute money to provide the population with all necessary materials.

For instance, a lot of protective equipment including masks and tests were sent by the founder of Chinese Alibaba. By the way, this help was delivered to various parts of the planet. Moreover, more than 100 million protective masks and other means have to be donated to the World Health Organization.

At the same time, the key contribution has to be considered the development of services that are devoted to inform people about the threat and combat the pandemic. For example,  key US IT companies, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, concluded an agreement that they would prevent the spread of false information about the new coronavirus. As a result, more than 40 million posts on Facebook were reported to be containing inaccurate information about coronavirus.

The Close Contact Detector program started working just after the outbreak of a new disease in China. The program signals the proximity of those infected. India and Israel have developed similar applications, as well as a similar resource is being developed in Germany. In Europe, which has become one of the main foci of the pandemic, the GSMA is providing data to authorities to model and predict the spread of infection.

SaaS Platform MATRIX Cloud

The solution includes the SaaS platform MATRIX Cloud EDC (platform for processing patient data during clinical trials) and the digital biomarker ePRO (patient questionnaire, questionnaires, scales) for conducting clinical trials of medical preparations.

The platform can be used to collect data on the status of patients with COVID-19 patients remotely. Patients download the application to their phones and fill out questionnaires about their condition. The platform can process data and provide reports in a secure format. Such a platform looks similar to the engineering marketplaces such as Engre that provides customers with the needed experience, qualifications, and professional engineers around the world. By the way, MATRIX Cloud is the only platform that processes data in accordance with international standards and the only company on the market that provides ePRO.

Now the company is ready to provide free access to a platform for testing drugs to combat COVID-19.

The Data MATRIX team is ready to use data from regional MISs to conduct studies on the symptoms of COVID-19 and provide a list of drugs with the potential to fight the virus, as well as offer a list of directions for developing a full-fledged/specialized drug, and are also ready to analyze data from other countries for acceleration and validation results.

Healbe

Healbe is a solution for remote, continuous monitoring of human health parameters and automated risk identification based on the Healbe bracelet, together with the Perm State Medical University named after Academician E.A. Wagner.

BIOT in advance, for 1-3 days, is able to detect the reactions of human adaptation systems to the development of any kind of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, as well as to identify signs of other socially significant diseases, including those associated with cardiovascular complications, metabolic diseases, etc.

Unlike other applications and trackers that require self-input of calorie intake information, only GoBe ™ 2 provides automatic calorie counting using Healbe FLOW ™ technology. The patented innovation collects information from five sensors (bioimpedance sensor, piezoscanner, skin-galvanic reaction sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope). An advanced algorithm provides a comprehensive view of the state of your body.

Early detection of the reaction of human adaptive systems and timely response can significantly improve the rates of treatment. The solution is applicable for early diagnosis of changes in the health status of people in quarantine or at-risk groups.

Artificial Intelligence in the Fight Against Coronavirus

One of the main ways that help doctors to identify and control the disease is computed tomography of the lungs. Using these images, pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus can be determined.

Therefore, many companies have begun to apply artificial intelligence to help to recognize CT images. Such a program has been working since the end of January. Initially, such programs served as an assistant, helping doctors who were tired of heavy loads. However, with time, artificial intelligence has become the key element and was able to recognize COVID-19 in the lungs in seconds independently.

Alibaba, which is Chinese e-commerce giant, has also created an AI-based diagnostic system. According to company representatives, within 20 seconds it can detect a coronavirus. And accuracy was equal to  96 percent. This program has already been used in hundreds of hospitals in China.

BlueDot, which is Canadian startup, has contributed to fighting COVID-19 by developing one of the most successful disease risk prediction systems. About 100 thousand articles in 65 languages ​​daily have been scanned by their artificial intelligence. Therefore, it was the first to detect an outbreak of coronavirus in China back in December 2019.

One of the most famous developments is a program that collects real-time information on coronavirus infections worldwide. Such a program was developed by Johns Hopkins University which is actively used around the world.

As it is known, fever is one of the most widespread symptoms of the new coronavirus. High blood pressure also accompanies many cases of the disease. And by means of AI people can  measure pressure therefore they are constantly aware of their health condition. Such  technology is based on using a selfie video shot on a smartphone’s camera which helps AI to transmit the data.

Obviously, devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches have become of real importance as they can transmit heart rate data. Recent researchers have shown that analyzing heart rate variability and its abnormalities contribute to identifying respiratory diseases in the early stages.

Remote temperature measurement is gaining its momentum because such a technology helps to identify potential patients who can transmit the disease. Many authorities including the Chinese and American police are already testing helmets that can determine people’s temperature. These helmets are equipped with thermal imaging cameras which transmit appropriate information. They can measure a person’s temperature at a distance of five meters. If the camera captures a passer-by temperature above 37.3 degrees, it gives a signal.

Chatbots

One of the most famous chatbots is Bespoke. It was created after a strong earthquake  in Japan in 2011. All information regarding coronavirus can be found here. For instance, the latest news about the outbreak of coronavirus, statistics, information on prevention and symptoms, as well as the latest developments in the field of transport services.

A chatbot with artificial intelligence that identifies flu symptoms has been developed in the United States. All you need to do is to send data on temperature and pulse, as well as an audio recording of cough. Then this chatbot will ask clarifying questions related to the coronavirus.

NVIDIA Sends Graphics Chips to Fight Against Coronavirus

NVIDIA has sent graphics chips to fight against coronavirus. Medical challenges will be addressed through the NVIDIA Clara healthcare platform.

According to a company press release, this platform combines artificial intelligence and accelerated computing. Among the new methods presented is fast genome sequencing using NVIDIA Clara Parabricks software, which runs on NVIDIA A100 graphics chips. The system can sequence genome DNA in less than 20 minutes. For coronavirus infection researchers, the software will be available under a free 90-day license.

NVIDIA also introduced new artificial intelligence models for disease recognition and the NVIDIA Clara Guardian system for small hospitals. The latter uses the technology of “smart” video analysis and automatic recognition to track the vital signs of patients. AI models were created based on data from regions with a high prevalence of COVID-19.

Cloud Services "AntiKokh" and "AntiKorona"

The AntiKok cloud service allows automated analysis of medical images based on artificial intelligence with continuous improvement of diagnosis parameters through continuous machine learning. The advantages of the service are the telemedicine function and the availability of a cloud data center where the corresponding software is located. As a result of the first stages of testing, the program managed to achieve a level of diagnostic accuracy of 93%.

The project has wide capabilities to combat COVID-19. Previously, it was found that images of the lungs taken on computed tomography (CT) scans allow you to see the specific features of the course of the disease. However, CT diagnostics have a number of drawbacks: expensive and complex CT equipment is found only in large medical centers, the number of CT specialists is limited, and CT examination itself is also very expensive. The project team implemented a special study of the effectiveness of the service on labeled x-ray images obtained from US clinics and focused on the treatment of patients with coronavirus. Based on the results of machine learning, encouraging results were obtained on the reliability of COVID-19 diagnostics based on fluorographic images. This fact fundamentally expands the possibilities of diagnosing the disease and significantly reduces the cost of it: almost all medical institutions are equipped with digital fluorographs. In fact, we can talk about creating a pilot version of the AntiCoron cloud service, which will allow medical professionals to quickly diagnose COVID-19 and develop a personalized treatment plan based on the recommendations of the medical decision support system.

At the same time, the possibilities of machine learning of the service make it possible to use it for the analysis of CT images of the chest. After training, the system will be able to detect specific pathologies in the lungs that are characteristic of patients with coronavirus infection and those who have already suffered COVID-19. The technology will allow formulating effective proposals for further treatment and recovery of patients.

An important place in the fight against COVID-19 is occupied by actual medical and statistical data, regularly collected and processed by institutions and health authorities. The system allows you to transfer online medical and management information about the condition of each patient with coronavirus infection and about the situation as a whole to healthcare organizers of all levels.

Folding @ Home

According to Tom's Hardware, Folding @ Home, a distributed computing science project, is stepping up its capacity for coronavirus research COVID-19 every day. Thanks to the great growth of volunteers who have joined the project over the past two weeks, the Folding @ Home project has now reached 470 petaflops of computing power. And this is twice as much as Summit, the fastest supercomputer in the world. The current capabilities of Folding @ Home are comparable to the total capacity of the seven best supercomputers in the world combined. Estimated data on the amount donated by users for research on the cores of the CPU / GPU is more than 27 million.

In the current difficult situation during the coronavirus epidemic, more than four hundred thousand volunteers have donated their computing resources to help study coronavirus (COVID-19). Now the Folding @ Home project is engaged in calculating models in several areas at once to combat COVID-19.

As part of the distributed computing project, twenty-three new subprojects have already been added. Folding @ Home allows researchers to use donated CPU and GPU cycles, for example, to study the functioning of protein molecules involved in suppressing COVID-19 by the immune system. Also, all the data obtained as a result of the Folding @ Home project is quickly sent to research laboratories around the world for analysis and study.

At the moment, the laboratories of Bowman lab, Chodera lab, Voelz lab are participating in these experiments to find a cure for coronavirus using Folding @ Home. Their current projects are aimed at studying the processes of interaction of the coronavirus with the ACE2 receptor, which is present in the human body, and through which the virus penetrates into the cells. The list of scientific laboratories and researchers working with the Folding @ Home project is constantly updated.

Pandemy Lifestyle Coach

Pandemy Lifestyle Coach is the development of a personal digital adviser (in the form of a mobile application) for interactive monitoring and support of citizens in the context of the spread and aftereffects of pandemics, including psychological, medical, financial information and counseling.

A personal digital lifestyle-assistant to help citizens in a pandemic performs the following tasks:

- personalized informing the owner about the current status of the pandemic (it solves the problem of raising the awareness of citizens, providing citizens with reliable information, providing a comfortable psychological background for the life of citizens);

- monitoring and improving the psychological state of the owner (including in the event of anxiety, panic, depressive states) by implementing a chatbot with the functions of a psychologist and communication mechanisms with the psychological support service of the population (solves the problem of reducing the level of population stress in a pandemic);

- monitoring the health status and physical condition of the owner of the assistant (a combination of fitness and medical adviser, with the support of telemedicine functions in case of symptoms of the disease), solves the problem of timely detection of infected people and providing them with medical care while reducing the burden on the healthcare system, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a good physical form of citizens in conditions of self-isolation and limited mobility;

- monitoring and recommendations on maintaining financial health in the aftermath of a pandemic, including the “anti-crisis” financial assistant of a citizen, solves the problem of leveling the economic consequences of a pandemic for individuals and households by increasing the financial literacy of the population.

Project Implementation Status:

1. Developed and deployed an ecosystem of personal assistant services based on microservice architecture.

2. A number of services has been developed for a personal assistant (forecasting citizen’s spending/profitability for various categories of consumer goods, recommendations on spending places, evaluating emotional dominance based on textual information).

The fight against the epidemic forced techno-developers to get all the best practices and prototypes from long boxes. Further, we are waiting only for development in this direction. The situation with coronavirus has forced many companies to completely change their business processes, and for IT technologies this is a powerful “kick” " to the future.