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Minds behind pandemic predicting algorithm already thinking about future beyond COVID-19
This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 25, 2020 5:39AM EDT
OTTAWA - The Canadian researcher who was among the first to predict the deadly spread of COVID-19 says the world needs to change the way it monitors for and reacts to disease outbreaks.
Dr. Kamran Khan set out to make a "smoke alarm" that would detect disease outbreaks around the world when he created his pandemic-predicting software BlueDot.
Khan and his team of about 50 experts used big data and artificial intelligence to warn the world of a potentially serious viral outbreak three days before the World Health Organization, though they picked up on the signs even earlier.
Waiting for outbreaks to be declared typically takes too long, the University of Toronto professor of medicine and public health says, and the information often takes a long time to make it into the hands of the medical community and the public.
The world is changing, he says, and diseases are emerging with greater frequency and having bigger impacts.
Big data and artificial intelligence can provide a bird's-eye view of diseases around the globe in real time, letting people move faster to quash new outbreaks.