COVID-19 and Infodemic: the two global challenges for the world of research

The spread of COVID-19 has led researchers and companies around the world to speed up innovation and exploration of areas with a huge potential for technological evolution.
The areas of challenge are mainly oriented to mitigate transmission, facilitate the detection of the virus, understand the social and economic impact and define new behavioural patterns, new systems to regulate transactions, to deliver products and to improve efficiency of services.

The number of scientist and researchers active today in every part of the world to face the pandemic is very consistent. It is noteworthy that many scientific papers on the topic Covid have numerous and interesting connections with topics such as “machine learning“, “artificial intelligence“, “deep learning“, and “neural network“.

COVID-19: The fields of application of AI in medicine

Artificial intelligence finds its applications both in medical and social field. We should not forget that the main factor of spreading for COVID-19 is represented by sociality and contact with other people.

In medical field, for example, machine learning is used to understand the level of infectivity of SARS-Cov-2

In summary:

- parts of coronavirus’ protein sequences that are most associated with high case fatality rate (high-CFR) are identified

- machine learning is used to implement an interpretive technique that will allow the identification of similar cases with a high "potential".
Another example is the monitoring techniques that makes use of Computer Imaging techniques.

Medical images of COVID-19 cases (x-rays such as x-rays chest or kidney function test charts) are classified and used to identify other cases, help doctors to interpret the course of the infection and act in a preventive manner.

This information is also a further source of research and learning that can easily be pooled to develop new strategies to combat the pandemic.

Infodemic: a threat that comes from the web

Artificial intelligence can also be applied to assess virus containment models and public policy choices.

For example, we can identify similarities or differences in the evolution of the pandemic between different regions and the connections with the propagation of disinformation, antisocial behaviour or hate campaigns.

These interpretative strategies based on information and language monitoring have made it possible to detect another type of social virus linked to language and information. Let’s talk about what has been called “infodemic*"

The experts have identified an Infodemic Risk Index (IRI), to quantify and understand the exposure rate of a country or region to messages associated with the phenomena of hatred and infodemic conveyed through the main social platforms. The identification of trends in conversations and the identification and classification of the main sources (verified users, reliable or institutional sources, bots or users that, in relation to the high number of posts and type of content, can be considered as unreliable) allows to contain the risks of a further expansion of COVID-19 linked to negative behaviour and misinformation.

The World Health Organization is proactively observing the phenomenon of infodemic because it is closely linked to the course of the pandemic and has important implications for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 and Infodemic can advance proportionally and with close correlations and for this reason once again the role of Tech Giant becomes crucial and controversial.

*Infodemic: an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it” and deems it a second “disease” which needs fighting (WHO)



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