Tracking the Coronavirus Pandemic with AI: BlueDot featured on 60 Minutes
On New Year’s Eve, the Toronto-based start-up BlueDot was alerted to a flu-like outbreak in Wuhan, China. The alert came nearly a week before the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization would raise the alarm of the dangerous new illness now known as COVID-19.
BlueDot is a product of research into artificial intelligence and infectious diseases led by Dr. Kamran Khan, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Using flight data, natural language processing and machine learning, BlueDot’s “digital early warning system” was among the first to detect the novel coronavirus and predict where it would spread to next, sounding the alarm for what would become an unprecedented pandemic.
“We did not know that this would become the next pandemic,” said Dr. Khan. “But we did know that there were echoes of the SARS outbreak, and it was something that we really should be paying attention to.”
On April 26, Dr. Khan and BlueDot were featured on the CBS News program 60 Minutes.