Covid breakthrough as new AI tool could help predict future viral outbreaks

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The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated how viruses are constantly evolving at a fast pace and have a way of evading our immune systems, which in turn, hinders any scientific efforts to control outbreaks.

New artificial intelligence developed by leading researchers at the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School could help predict new variants of a virus.

The AI tool, named EVEscape, predicts if a viral mutation can escape immune responses in certain ways such as preventing antibodies from binding.

By AI understanding the biological and structural form of a virus, it is able to make predictions about what variant can occur when the virus evolves.

Co-lead author of the study, Pascal Notin, thinks that the AI tool could have helped fight the virus in the pandemic: “Our study shows that had EVEscape been deployed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have accurately predicted the most frequent mutations and the most concerning variants.”

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