Pakistani scientists have developed software based on artificial intelligence that can help detect COVID-19 in under a minute, Science Diplomacy Pakistan, a division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted on Saturday.
‘COV-RAID’ has an accuracy of more than 90% and is a cost-effective and universally accessible diagnostic tool.
Pakistan has a population of over 212 million, and coronavirus was confirmed to have reached Pakistan on 26 February 2020 when two cases were recorded (a student in Karachi who had just returned from Iran and another person in Islamabad, the Capital Territory).
Pakistan then embarked upon strategic smart lockdowns and contact tracing, an approach that was well recognized across the globe.
HARD WORK POWERED BY SMART STRATEGIES:
“The world is acknowledging our smart lockdown strategy that has led to a gradual decline in our cases…But if we are not cautious during Eid… cases might rise again and the situation can worsen,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had said earlier this year while commenting on his government’s strategic approach.
CARE AND WELLBEING
From day one, Imran Khan had made it clear, the policies of mass lockdowns and curfews across Pakistan are not going to work when it comes to the poor people of his country. Most of this poor class works on a day to day basis, and Imran Khan wasn’t convinced that a mass lockdown will help. Hence the focus on smart and selective lockdowns on areas where active surveillance was needed got initiated.
Pakistan was one of the few countries where early on during the pandemic, temperature checks at airports, and mass distribution of face masks came into practice, and so did sanitizing sprays when it came to entry points at shopping areas or public places.
HOW DOES COV-RAID WORK
The AI software has been developed by creating a data repository of Chest X Rays (CXR) for Covid-19 or non-Covid-19 detection. The COV-RAID requires a chest X-Ray image as an input for the detection of Covid-19 positive or negative patients in less than one minute.
COV-RAID also highlights it’s finding in the lungs through an AI approach by using heatmaps (Gallery Images). The algorithm has been trained on more than 35,000 CXRs (data authentication done through multiple certified radiologists and PCR reports). This technology in the current pandemic (COVID-19) can be a path-breaking to conduct screening of a large number of patients in a limited time
With its massive population data, connected population and enhanced mobility, Pakistan should be thinking towards designing a national health intelligence strategy, that is more focused on predicting diseases as compared to struggling to detect, diagnose or manage. That is not just for Pakistan, but for all countries to consider.
Cover Photo: Shutterstock
The author is a global thought leader and speaker on value-based healthcare, precision health, and evidence-based implementation of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. The author is based in Toronto, Canada.