The research arm of Chinese tech company Alibaba has developed an algorithm capable of diagnosing the coronavirus in seconds based on a patient's computerized tomography (CT) scans.

Researchers from Alibaba’s Damo Academy trained an algorithm on a data set comprised of roughly 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a severe acute respiratory syndrome. The algorithm has been engineered to recognize signs of the virus in patient CT scans with a reported 96% rate of accuracy.

In addition to the algorithm’s high detection rate, it is also capable of distinguishing between typical viral pneumonia and the coronavirus. Additionally, the algorithm expedites the diagnostic process, identifying the virus in just 20 seconds. This process can typically take doctors and other trained medical personnel as much as 20 minutes to identify and diagnose a patient after a review of his or her CT scans. According to the algorithm's developers, expediting diagnostics of the virus will likely ensure immediate treatment of infected patients.

The diagnostic tool will soon be deployed to roughly 100 hospitals throughout China, the country where the virus reportedly originated and where it so far has had the greatest impact.

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