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Our coverage on COVID‑19

Here’s how Alibaba’s AI and Cloud services are used to fight COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in healthcare systems around the world being put under severe strain, with numbers growing in severely impacted places. To help in the fight against the pandemic, Alibaba Cloud have announced that they are offering medical workers around the world access to “advanced cloud-based technology applications”.

Three new cloud-based solutions are being offered from Alibaba’s DAMO Academy (Alibaba’s research arm) for a limited time (free trial) to medical professionals, as well as researchers around the world.

These include the Epidemic Prediction Solution, which uses machine learning to model “epidemic characteristics” of the coronavirus within a certain region—this will also provide the estimated size, peak time, and duration of the epidemic. Impressively, Alibaba claims that their algorithm has a 98% average success rate based on tests in China.

There is also the application of deep-learning algorithms in a CT Image Analytics Solution; this will “significantly inprove” the diagnostic process when dealing with possible COVID-19 cases. Again, some impressive results are claimed: 3–4 seconds for each test, and Alibaba says that over 160 hospitals in China already integrate this in their processes. Users will also have access to something called Genome Sequencing for Coronavirus Diagnostic Solution that also implements AI into virus genome sequencing.

International Medical Expert Communication Platform

The “solutions” above were designed in a collaborative effort by Alibaba Cloud, Alibaba DAMO Academy, and DingTalk. Rather interestingly, DingTalk has provided live-streamed online classes to millions of students in China in the past.

Now, the company has launched a platform for medical experts to communicate, collaborate, and work together. The International Medical Expert Communication Platform will be hosted on Alibaba Cloud, and is free to use for medical professionals around the globe—one of the benefits, according to Alibaba Cloud, is that doctors will then have direct access to to communicate with front-liners in China who have dealt with COVID-19 at the peak of the outbreak.

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AI-based tech is also used to provide real-time translations and video conferencing, with 11 languages supported (Arabic, Bahasa, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese).

As of the 23rd of March 2020, 339,831 cases have been confirmed around the globe across 172 countries. The death toll stands at 14,530, while 97,024 patients have made full recoveries.

For more information on the solutions, click here. If you’re a medical professional, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have shared a handbook of front-liners’ experiences that you can download here.