AMPLYFI Insights

AMPLYFI’s Zoonotic Early Warning System: Part One

By October 20, 2021 October 22nd, 2021 No Comments

Building an AI Early Warning System for the Next Pandemic

In this e-book, the first of a two-part series, you will discover:

  • AMPLYFI’s UK Research and Innovation funded project proving the concept of an artificial intelligence-based early warning system to alert against the emergence of future pandemics.
  • The landscape, importance and potential impact such a system could have on pandemic preparedness following disruption from COVID-19.
  • First steps in the process creating the technology behind the system.

About the project

The level of disruption caused globally by COVID-19 has been vast, with estimates indicating that global GDP shrank by 7.2% from April to June 2020. Whilst the financial costs alone are eye watering, the total cost of COVID-19, particularly the human cost of millions of people suffering from bereavements, anxiety during long periods of lockdown and isolation, pressures on health services delaying monitoring and treatment of routine health conditions and illnesses, will never be known.

The human and financial benefit of even one day’s extra warning is vast. Providing an early warning would enable governments to trigger proactive preparations such as building reserves of medical equipment, medicines, and PPE, alongside tightening border controls, compulsory isolation for overseas arrivals and social distancing. Avoiding even a single day of lockdown would deliver significant benefit – £300m in the case of the UK’s furlough scheme and US$70 billion on GDP.

In July 2020, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s innovation agency, launched its competition call for ideas to address COVID-19. In response to this call, AMPLYFI has successfully completed a project to prove the concept of an artificial intelligence-based early warning system to alert against the emergence of any future pandemic.

Called the Zoonotic Early Warning System (ZEWS), the platform would continually scan the internet 24/7 and monitor for the emergence of patterns learnt from analysing previous zoonotic disease outbreaks such as SARS and ebola. It laid the technical foundations for creating a novel platform capable of constantly monitoring the internet and alerting experts to the potential emergence of future pandemics involving either known or new diseases. Such a system would cut through the opacity and denial that caused COVID-19; placing nations on the front foot, enabling them to be proactive in their preparations, and significantly reducing the disruption caused.

Part Two of the ZEWS e-book is available here.