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China offers its AI technology to diagnose virus the world over

By WANG YIQING | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-02 07:38
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A technician adjusts a disinfection robot at a robot manufacturer in Qingdao, Shandong province. XIE HAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

Artificial intelligence has played an important role in fighting the novel coronavirus in China, especially in diagnosing novel coronavirus pneumonia. The technology is now going overseas to fight the pandemic.

At the State Council's March 25 media briefing, Ministry of Industry and Information spokesman Xie Shaofeng said more than 20 AI systems were used in hundreds of hospitals in Wuhan, the former epicenter of the outbreak, and other regions of China, helping diagnose thousands of cases. AI is also being used to develop a vaccine.

Computerized tomography (CT) is a diagnostic method of confirming novel coronavirus pneumonia. During a pandemic, medical workers are too overwhelmed to check every patient's CT film in depth. That's where AI steps in, helping doctors review CT films and diagnose the disease with more than 90 percent accuracy.

But diagnosis through AI has its pitfalls too; because of the possibility of misdiagnosis, it cannot be the sole diagnostic tool. However, it can be an effective assistant, helping overworked doctors double check and reduce the possibility of misdiagnosis.

Because of its unique advantage, AI has helped reduce the time for diagnosing the disease and treating patients, apart from reducing the chances of hospital infection.

As the epidemic is almost under control in China but worsening overseas, Chinese enterprises are willing to share their technologies with medical workers the world over to help win the global battle against the virus. Aliyun, a company affiliated to Alibaba, had provided its AI technology to more than 160 hospitals in China, helping them diagnose 340,000 cases. On March 19, Aliyun announced it would open its AI diagnosis technology to hospitals the world over for free.

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