Ever since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, health organisations and governments have been looking for ways to predict the spread of the virus, as well as when it will end. Some estimates have placed it in the latter half of 2021 and even 2022, but technology, and AI in particular, might have a different answer.

This as a team of data scientists and researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have fed massive amounts of data into an AI model to predict the lifecycle of COVID-19.

The mathematical method for this model is SIR-based, which stands for susceptible, infected, recovered.

According to the team’s model, the spread of the virus is expected to end sometime in December this year, or more accurately 2nd December, if their data is to be believed.

The team also explains that different regions will see an end to the spread at varying times, with projections having been produced for countries like the United States, Italy and of course Singapore.

The former two have been severely impacted by COVID-19, and have some of the highest numbers of positive cases in the globe. As for when the SUTD team predicts the spread will end, the US is estimated at 13th September and Italy by 10th October.

Unfortunately there is no prediction for South Africa, or any other African country for that matter, and it might be a good thing that there isn’t.

As the researchers explain, this AI model should be viewed with caution as it is merely an estimate and cannot be viewed as wholly accurate.

“The model and data are inaccurate to the complex, evolving, and heterogeneous realities of different countries. Predictions are uncertain by nature. Readers must take any predictions with caution,” notes a disclaimer for the AI predictions.

“Over-optimism based on some predicted end dates is dangerous because it may loosen our disciplines and controls and cause the turnaround of the virus and infection, and must be avoided,” it adds.

We tend to agree with the researchers on that front.

The information they have provided is interesting, and shows how AI models can be used for predictive tasks on a large scale, but practicing physical distancing, wearing masks and observing good hygiene at this time is the only way that the virus stops spreading.

If we are indeed to flatten the curve, that’s the only way it is going to happen.

[Image – Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash]