Iranian Think Tank Rejects Herd Immunity as A Way to Tackle COVID-19

Iranian Think Tank Rejects Herd Immunity as A Way to Tackle COVID-19

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Academics from top Iranian universities discussed the efficacy of AI-assisted COVID-19 diagnosis system they had proposed months ago, during the 2nd round of the MSTF (Mustafa Science and Technology Foundation) Science Promotion Meeting held on Wednesday.

The 2nd round of the MSTF Science Promotion Meeting hosted Hossein Ghanaati, head of Coronavirus think tank in Tehran province, and Hamid R. Rabiee, Member of The World Health Organization (WHO) AI committee, who have designed AI-Med—a system drawing on Artificial Intelligence for diagnosis of COVID-19 via chest CT scan.

Hamid R. Rabiee, professor at Department of Computer Engineering of Sharif University of Technology, stated that they have introduced this system to Indonesia, India, and some African countries.

“We have sent the system to different countries; it is available online, integrated into PACS, and on desktop. We’ve had meetings with a number of countries, and the meetings are to be continued,” he added.

“We have received samples from other countries and entered them into the system,” he continued.

He announced that they are designing a network which “can predict to what extent a COVID-19 patient has the chance of recovery, is at the risk of death, and how long they might be hospitalized.”

“Other modes of data are being added into our new system, other than CT scan,” he added.

He said AI-Med system facilitates the process of diagnosis during the peak time.

“It is integrated with hospitals’ PACS. Different universities helped the introduction of this system into the hospitals,” he continued.

He asserted that not only is this system specific and sensitive, but also it can detect the amount of infected area and its results are interpretable. Furthermore, the system updates itself according to the dynamic behavior of this virus.

Rabiee further hinted at the integral role of culture making regarding the acceptance of this system everywhere for COVID-19 detection. “There is clinical evidence that this system gives the results more quickly, in addition to being cost-effective, sensitive, and specific,” he remarked.

Hossein Ghanaati, professor of Neurointerventional Radiology at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, asserted that in Iran we have not passed the first wave of this disease yet.

He said that “Coronavirus is a real war; a war against the existence of human beings.”

Expressing doubts about the efficiency of any COVID-19 vaccine produced in the future, he stated that “COVID-19’s behavior is different from other viruses. The amount of IgG in recovered patients is reduced after a while.”

He proposed 3 strategies which can help to control the current crisis worldwide: 1) prevention; 2) effective management by the governments; and 3) tracking.

Maintaining that the second peak is predicted to be in autumn, Ghanaati said “as people have more indoor activities in that time of the year, the risk of infection increases.”

Emphasizing the importance of wearing masks by everyone, he asserted that “herd immunity, which occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease by getting infected, does not help to curb COVID-19.”

He said while RT-PCR test is not accurate and its result gets ready in 2 days, chest CT scan test done via AI-Med is more accurate and the result gets immediately ready.

Asked how this system can help the detection of the COVID-19 patients in crowded areas like airports, Ghanaati replied: “our new system aims to detect the infected subjects with the help of X-ray. It will not substitute the doctor’s diagnosis, but it will help detecting infected people in crowded places like airports immediately.”

“The advantage of utilizing AI in the current pandemic is that no data is missed,” he observed.

Regarding the utilization of AI-Med in Islamic countries, he said that “so far, Afghanistan and Iraq have consulted with us and have used our pieces of advice.”

Science Promotion Meetings are a series of meetings held by the Mustafa(pbuh) Science and Technology Foundation (MSTF) in order to communicate science and scientific achievements to the public.

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