AI Takes the Lead: Predicting the Next COVID Variant Wave

AI Takes the Lead: Predicting the Next COVID Variant Wave

Last Updated: 4 January 2024By

In the ever-evolving battle against COVID-19, a groundbreaking AI tool is stepping up to the plate, offering the ability to foresee which SARS-CoV-2 variants might trigger upcoming waves of infection. Unlike existing models that broadly predict viral transmission dynamics, this cutting-edge AI model specializes in forecasting the specific spread of virus variants.

Conducted by Retsef Levi and a team of researchers, the study delved into the analysis of a whopping 9 million SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences sourced from 30 countries. This extensive dataset, collected by the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), became the foundation for developing a machine-learning enabled risk assessment model.

What makes this AI model truly remarkable is its capability to predict with a striking accuracy of 72.8% which variants in each country are likely to cause at least 1,000 cases per million people in the next three months. Remarkably, this foresight increases to an impressive 80.1% after just two weeks of observation.

Key predictors for a variant’s infectious potential include its early infection trajectory, spike mutations, and the distinctiveness of its mutations compared to the dominant variant during the observation period. Essentially, this AI tool peers into the genetic intricacies of the virus, offering a crucial edge in anticipating and managing future outbreaks.

AI Takes the Lead: Predicting the Next COVID Variant Wave

What’s even more promising is the potential expansion of this modeling approach to predict the trajectory of other infectious diseases. The authors of the study suggest that this groundbreaking technology could become a pivotal tool in our ongoing efforts to understand and combat various emerging health threats.

As we navigate the complexities of a post-pandemic world, the fusion of artificial intelligence and epidemiology emerges as a beacon of hope, providing us with the foresight needed to stay one step ahead in our ongoing battle against infectious diseases.