Deep learning is being used to predict critical COVID-19 cases

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Researchers from Tencent, along with other Chinese scientists, are using deep learning to predict critical COVID-19 cases.

Scientists around the world are doing incredible work to increase our understanding of COVID-19. Thanks to their findings, existing medications have been discovered to increase the likelihood of surviving the virus.

Unfortunately, there are still fatalities. People with weakened immune systems or underlying conditions are most at risk, but it’s a dangerous myth that the young and otherwise healthy can’t die from this virus.

According to a paper published in science journal Nature, around 6.5 percent of COVID-19 cases have a “worrying trend of sudden progression to critical illness”. Of those cases, there’s a mortality rate of 49 percent.

In the aforementioned paper, the researchers wrote: “Since early intervention is associated with improved prognosis, the ability to identify patients that are most at risk of developing severe disease upon admission will ensure that these patients receive appropriate care as soon as possible.”

While most countries appear to be reaching the end of the first wave of COVID-19, the possibility of a second threatens. Many experts forecast another wave will hit during the winter months; when hospitals already struggle from seasonal viruses.

One of the biggest challenges with COVID-19 is triaging patients to decide who are most at risk and require more resources allocated to their care. During the peak of the outbreak in Italy, doctors reported reaching a point of having to make heartbreaking decisions over whether it was a waste of limited resources even trying to save someone.

A team led by China’s senior medical advisor on COVID-19, Zhong Nanshan, was established in February. The team consisted of researchers from Tencent AI Lab in addition to Chinese public health scientists.

Nanshan’s team set out to build a deep learning-based system which can predict whether a patient is likely to become a critical case. Such information would be invaluable to ensuring the patient gets early intervention to improve their chances of surviving the virus in addition to supporting medical staff with their triaging decisions.

The deep learning model was trained on data from 1590 patients from 575 medical centers across China, with further validation from 1393 patients.

Tencent has made the COVID-19 tool for predicting critical COVID-19 cases available online here (Please note the small print which currently says “this tool is for research purpose and not approved for clinical use.”)

(Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash)

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