Is it possible that machine learning could help to identify the viruses most likely to transmit over from animals to people and cause future pandemics? This intriguing topic came to us from Nature in their article, “Could an algorithm predict the next pandemic?

Novel coronavirus – the most recent pandemic – struck over 99% of the countries and territories of the world, leaving over 6 million dead and placing states in perilous positions. Important research is ongoing for virus detection, providing treatments to relieve symptoms, and developing vaccines. Emerging technologies have played a primary role under these circumstances in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Does this mean that technology can also help identify potential future pandemics? FluLeap is a machine learning algorithm that uses sequence data to classify influenza viruses as either avian or human. Rather than attempting to fully characterize every new virus, models could be used to flag high-priority targets for further investigation.

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Melody K. Smith

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