By Casey Ross on July 27, 2020


Male AP Supine AI artificial intelligence


At first, the images of lungs infected by the novel coronavirus were hard to come by. It was early in the pandemic, and Joseph Paul Cohen, a researcher at the University of Montreal, was trying to stockpile radiology scans to train an artificial intelligence model to recognize warning signs of severe illness.

With so few images available, the work was next to impossible. But in recent weeks, the resurgence of Covid-19 in the U.S. and other hotspots has solved that problem, allowing him to amass hundreds of lung scans from clinical reports published around the world. “We’re at a good number now,” said Cohen. “There’s a sufficient amount to start doing this.”

Little more than six months after the pandemic emerged, a number of researchers and companies are already testing the ability of AI systems to aid diagnosis of Covid-19 from lung images, and with the data on patients flowing more freely, researchers like Cohen say they can begin to build more reliable AI models that seek to predict the severity of disease, gauge patients’ response to various treatments, and determine whether they are likely to need a ventilator or transfer to an intensive care unit.


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