• Identifying coronavirus occurrence has been a challenge 
  • Alibaba claims that its system can identify the virus within 20 seconds
  • The company has also donated millions of dollars to efforts to combat coronavirus

China, the worst-hit country by Coronavirus outbreak is still trying to come to grips with it and Chinese tech companies are at the forefront of this effort. The country’s biggest tech company, Alibaba, has developed an artificial intelligence-based system, which it claims can detect Coronavirus presence with 96% accuracy.

This is substantial, as currently there is a debate about even the correct quarantine period needed and the exact symptoms to look out for. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 can exist in a person long before they start exhibiting the symptoms and even after they have recovered.

Nikkei Asian Review reported Monday that Alibaba has launched the system, which works by assessing CT scans of patients' chest and will be able to detect the presence of the virus within 20 seconds. Compared to AI, humans take 15 minutes to make a diagnosis.

The system has been trained using data from 5,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases. According to the report, Alibaba’s system has been tested in hospitals throughout China and is now deployed in 100 healthcare facilities.

Apart from Alibaba, other Chinese tech companies are also pitching in. Search giant Baidu and healthcare organization Ping An have also launched similar systems. AI may help reduce the burden on overworked doctors battling the outbreak worldwide.

Alibaba is continuously contributing to combat the virus outbreak – the company’s founder, Jack Ma, had in January donated $14 million to efforts to combat the disease. The company donated another $144 million towards providing medical supplies to the worst affected Hubei province of China.

However, any claims coming out of China about the outbreak and its containment efforts need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as many whistleblowers about the disease and the Chinese government’s tactics to fight it have been silenced and massive efforts have been put in to scan social media for any negative information about the government’s effort.

The United States is now facing a potential coronavirus epidemic The United States is now facing a potential coronavirus epidemic Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN