As the world combats the COVID-19 pandemic situation, both Blockchain and AI have proven to be great assets in facilitating response initiatives globally. Ever since the virus started spreading rapidly across geographies, blockchain platforms have been deployed to streamline various processes. AI has been used in multiple sectors for tracking the contagion, drug discovery, etc.
The World Health Organization has deployed a blockchain platform in collaboration with tech companies for sharing and authentication of information related to the coronavirus which will help in managing the situation in a better way.
In China, DLT is being used to fast track coronavirus insurance claims so that the affected can get quick and easy payouts for healthcare. International charitable organizations are accepting cryptocurrencies and organizing crypto fundraisers for relief.
All these blockchain and AI developments in the past couple of months attest to the fact that the new age technologies have come out as heroes in this corona battle. However, will they be able to prevent future outbreaks of the same nature?
In case of any contagious viral disease, the first line of prevention is to contain the virus. To that effect, we will need early detection of virus outbreaks, in which Artificial Intelligence can help. Using an AI application, it can be detected whether the disease in a particular region, which is spreading from a mutated virus, has the risk of spreading rapidly to the other countries as well.
An AI application through its machine learning algorithm can detect patterns in which a disease is spreading in its initial stages and predict an outcome of it in the coming days. It runs through all the data related to the affected and the regions, medical records, etc. After a deep yet quick analysis, such an application can predict the risk factors associated with the disease, and also give an idea if it has the potential of becoming a pandemic.
Installation of a cloud-based AI application that comes with a comprehensive image database, diagnostic annotations and reviews, and radiologist matching along with assistive AI and ML systems at airports and other public places can help in early detection of outbreaks.
Powered by the instantaneous nature and scalability of AI applications, machines can process substantial amounts of data, with accuracy and in detail which is otherwise an impossible task for human resources alone. Since the data gets processed faster than traditional systems, it makes early disease detection easy.
Blockchain and AI are also being used around the world to fast track drug discovery and clinical trials. AI has the ability to process massive volumes of data which can be authenticated with the help of a blockchain platform.
Fed with authentic information of past and present medical data will enable researchers to come up with constructive solutions for developing a vaccine or drug. At present many pharmaceutical companies are using AI to detect and identify new molecules that can be used to develop treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus disease. AI and ML can also help in drug development through a comprehensive drug discovery engine that will scan through millions of samples and molecules and find the right ones that can be used for the development of vaccines and drugs.
For clinical trials, blockchain can be used to manage and record all the patient data and medical records, while maintaining accuracy. It speeds up the process, which helps in getting fast approval from concerned authorities like FDA etc.
The third and most crucial aspect of a pandemic is managing and facilitating the response efforts. In the case of COVID-19, AI robots and drones were used to ensure that the general population was abiding by the social distancing and lockdown protocol by staying indoors.
Robots were seen patrolling the streets of China, warning the people to maintain protocol and wear masks. The use of advanced technology like AI minimizes human interference in pandemic situations and curbs the spread.
Blockchain platforms are being used to manage the large volumes of medical data so that therein transparency in the process. The use of an immutable digital ledger to record the data keeps it safe and tamper-proof.
The DLT technology is being used in many geographies to manage the supply chain of critical medicines so there is no depletion of healthcare resources for the affected
Experts have also suggested that the government uses blockchain to streamline the financial relief distribution to make it fast and error-free.
Prevention of Future Outbreaks
Globalization and rapid growth in population, pose the risk of future pandemics, which may be even harder to control. However, with the well-strategized implementation of blockchain and AI, another medical catastrophe can be averted. For that all the governments and industries need to come together and work on contingency plans, using the new-age technologies that will not only help in early detection of the disease but will also aid in containing the virus outbreak. It is time to re-evaluate the legacy systems and make modifications where needed for a secure pandemic-free future.