Microsoft, US CDC tie-up to create ‘Clara’, a COVID-19 self-screening bot

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 24, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has introduced an AI bot called ‘Clara’ to help people assess potential symptoms of COVID-19.

The CDC has partnered up with CDC Foundation and Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service to create Clara, the “coronavirus self-checker.” the bot is currently only available in the US on the CDC website.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest the next course of action such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home,” Microsoft had said in a statement.

The AI service is meant to help the CDC and other frontline organizations respond to citizen inquiries, free up resources and medical services, doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals ” to provide critical care to those who need it,” it further said.

The bot helps users in self-screening to decide whether or not would they need a test, thus freeing up resources.

In India, Apollo hospitals on Saturday rolled out its Coronavirus Risk Scan, a similar self-assessment test for users to gauge the risk level of getting the coronavirus infection.

“Coronavirus Risk Scan by Apollo is designed to decrease the paranoia by generating a risk score based on your current symptoms. This will clear your doubts on whether you have or are likely to contract the novel,” Apollo hospitals had tweeted.

The risk-assessment test is designed based on advice from the World Health Organization and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare India.

Apple on Saturday also updated its voice assistant Siri for Apple users in the US. Siri will now provide a step by step guide to users who ask questions that are variations of “Siri, do I have the coronavirus?” The guide is also based on advice and guidelines by WHO. If a person shows severe symptoms, they will be prompted by Siri to call 911.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus have surpassed 3,34,000 with over 14,000 deaths reported worldwide according to the WHO.

Published on March 24, 2020

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