The Promise of AI in Detection, Diagnosis, and Epidemiology for Combating COVID-19: Beyond the Hype

Musa Abdulkareem, Steffen E. Petersen
2021 Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence  
COVID-19 has created enormous suffering, affecting lives, and causing deaths. The ease with which this type of coronavirus can spread has exposed weaknesses of many healthcare systems around the world. Since its emergence, many governments, research communities, commercial enterprises, and other institutions and stakeholders around the world have been fighting in various ways to curb the spread of the disease. Science and technology have helped in the implementation of policies of many
more » ... ts that are directed toward mitigating the impacts of the pandemic and in diagnosing and providing care for the disease. Recent technological tools, artificial intelligence (AI) tools in particular, have also been explored to track the spread of the coronavirus, identify patients with high mortality risk and diagnose patients for the disease. In this paper, areas where AI techniques are being used in the detection, diagnosis and epidemiological predictions, forecasting and social control for combating COVID-19 are discussed, highlighting areas of successful applications and underscoring issues that need to be addressed to achieve significant progress in battling COVID-19 and future pandemics. Several AI systems have been developed for diagnosing COVID-19 using medical imaging modalities such as chest CT and X-ray images. These AI systems mainly differ in their choices of the algorithms for image segmentation, classification and disease diagnosis. Other AI-based systems have focused on predicting mortality rate, long-term patient hospitalization and patient outcomes for COVID-19. AI has huge potential in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic but successful practical deployments of these AI-based tools have so far been limited due to challenges such as limited data accessibility, the need for external evaluation of AI models, the lack of awareness of AI experts of the regulatory landscape governing the deployment of AI tools in healthcare, the need for clinicians and other experts to work with AI experts in a multidisciplinary context and the need to address public concerns over data collection, privacy, and protection. Having a dedicated team with expertise in medical data collection, privacy, access and sharing, using federated learning whereby AI scientists hand over training algorithms to the healthcare institutions to train models locally, and taking full advantage of biomedical data stored in biobanks can alleviate some of problems posed by these challenges. Addressing these challenges will ultimately accelerate the translation of AI research into practical and useful solutions for combating pandemics.
doi:10.3389/frai.2021.652669 pmid:34056579 pmcid:PMC8160471 fatcat:a2x2mhixzzdldgarlww5mogbke