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Chinese high-tech helps world combat pandemic

2020/04/03 11:00   |    阅读量:834   |    来自: China Daily

【导语】 Chinese companies' expertise in artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud computing strengthens many nations' efforts to save lives.

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The booth of Huawei Technologies Co at the 6th World Internet Conference & The Light of Internet Expo in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, on Oct 19, 2019. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Domestic companies' expertise in artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud computing strengthens many nations' efforts to save lives

As the novel coronavirus outbreak affects people's lives and work around the world, a post by Otto Sonnenholzner, vice-president of Ecuador, recently caught the attention of many.

Sonnenholzner said in a Twitter post that Ecuador became the first country in Latin America to have an artificial-intelligence-enabled auxiliary diagnostic system in two local hospitals.

The move is significant, because AI diagnostic systems can help doctors make faster, more accurate decisions on whether patients are infected by deadly viruses, thus reducing the heavy burden on frontline healthcare workers.

The AI-system is offered by Huawei Cloud, the cloud computing unit of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co, and its partner-Beijing-based AI company Huiying Medical Technology Co Ltd.

Zheng Yelai, president of Huawei Cloud, said it took only 14 hours for Huawei and Huiying to connect the AI-enabled system to a hospital in Ecuador. Hospitals in dozens of countries are also contacting Huawei Cloud for possible cooperation.

The move is part of broader efforts by Chinese companies to leverage their technological prowess to help foreign nations in the global battle against the pandemic, as confirmed cases of the deadly virus surge overseas.

From AI and 5G to cloud computing, Chinese companies-which have just emerged from the most difficult period in their own battle against the contagion-have been standing with the world at a time when the pandemic is rapidly spreading worldwide.

They are sharing the experience they gathered when helping first contain the epidemic in China, and helping people better study and work at home during self-quarantine periods.

The AI-medical imaging evaluation system, for instance, has played an active part in China's efforts to control the outbreak.

Shi Yuxin, deputy head of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, said in an earlier interview that computerized tomography imaging is an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus.

AI-enabled systems can help classify pneumonia caused by the virus according to its severity, and calculate its burden on people's lungs. Traditional quantitative analysis performed without AI usually requires up to six hours. But AI systems are able to perform the same task within a minute, Shi said.

Huawei Pakistan has also donated a video conference system worth about $300,000 to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination of Pakistan to help the country fight the contagion.

Chinese tech giant Lenovo Group Ltd is also scrambling to do what it can to help countries combat the virus.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said the company has donated computers to low-income families and local schools in countries such as India, Brazil and the United States, and Lenovo has provided solutions to support remote healthcare and online learning.

In Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, Lenovo made a charitable donation to the Luigi Sacco Hospital of Milan. The company aims to help treat the more critical among the COVID-19 patients, both on site and at other hospitals. In particular, this means acquiring resuscitation apparatus as well as ambulances and stretchers, setting up pediatric departments to treat children and enhancing emergency rooms.

Lenovo and Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based BGI Genomics are also collaborating with US chip giant Intel Corp to accelerate the analysis of genomic characteristics of the novel coronavirus.

Technology and life science healthcare experts from Intel and Lenovo are working together to support BGI researchers with the latest big data analytical technologies and computing resources so as to further advance the capabilities of its sequencing tools, and more effectively analyze the genomic characteristics of the virus.

Tong Fuyao, senior vice-president of Lenovo, said the struggle against the coronavirus outbreak has touched the hearts of the entire world. As the world's leading PC maker, Lenovo is committed to providing computing support for life science research.

"Experts in big data analytics and life sciences from Intel and Lenovo will integrate our resources and expertise to help address the critical challenges and drive the development of health and life sciences," Tong said.

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Chinese doctors provide free consulting service to Chinese and foreign patients through WeDoctor's online platform in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, on March 17. [Photo by Long Wei/For China Daily]

In Europe-from the Meuse River and the Dinaric Alps, to Piraeus-increasing numbers of Chinese enterprises and Chinese nationals are standing with local authorities and front-line healthcare workers, mainly by providing much-needed medical protective gear to help their second homeland, now a new epicenter of the pandemic.

Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said, "At such a moment, only by sharing resources and experiences can we overcome the disaster."

The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation have increased efforts to provide support and supplies to affected countries, especially Italy, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, France, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Africa's response to the coronavirus disease outbreak has also received a major boost with the donation of medical equipment, including over 1.5 million diagnostic test kits and over 100 metric tons of infection prevention and control goods by the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation. The shipment arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-home to the African Union headquarters-on March 22.

A string of Chinese tech companies have also launched platforms where Chinese doctors can offer online medical advice to people overseas. Hangzhou, Zhejiang province-based digital health company WeDoctor has launched a Chinese-English platform, the Global Consultation and Prevention Center, in a bid to integrate medical resources from home and abroad to offer assistance to both Chinese and foreigners.

Liao Jieyuan, founder and CEO of WeDoctor, said for the current first phase, the platform has invited nearly 7,000 medical professionals from across China. Among them are physicians of respiratory medicine, infectious diseases and general medicine from 3A-grade hospitals.

"They are also experienced veterans in China's fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak," Liao said.

Baidu Health, a direct aid service platform integrating massive professional medical care institutions in China, has also invited over 100,000 doctors to its platform to provide 24-hour services for people, including overseas Chinese in hard-hit countries.

Another internet platform, JD Health, has also launched a global free health consultation platform, bringing together a number of experts and doctors who have rich anti-epidemic experience, including 30 experts of traditional Chinese medicine.

JD Health also offers consultation services in English to provide medical help for foreigners.

Lu Chuanying, director of the research center for global cyberspace governance, which is part of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said Chinese tech players have showcased their prowess amid the contagion.

Chinese tech companies' remarkable speed in tweaking existing technologies for application in the virus battle and their ability to devise practical solutions to new problems reflect their desire to shoulder responsibility toward the world, Lu said.

Leading Chinese construction machinery manufacturer Sany Group also contributed its part. The company has donated 50,000 medical masks to Bedburg, Germany. Written on the boxes was a German proverb, which translates as: "Mountains and valleys don't come together, but humans do."

The masks are destined for hospitals in Bedburg and Essen, both in North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the German states with the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

Martin Knoetgen, CEO of Sany Europe, said: "During the most difficult time of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, Sany Europe's partners and friends in Europe provided great support to the Chinese people. So, with a grateful heart, the Sany Group quickly put together the first batch of 50,000 protective masks in China to support the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany."




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