IBM and ICMR Join Hands to Fight Against COVID-19


IBM and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have collaborated to counter specific queries of frontline staff and data entry operators from various testing and diagnostic facilities across the country on COVID-19. Along with the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, these two have come together to use IBM’s Artificial intelligence-powered Watson virtual assistant to strengthen Rapid Response to India’s Frontline Testing Facilities.

The bot, Watson Assistant, is on the protected pages of ICMR’s web site to help employees who are concerned in pattern assortment and testing. However, only authorized personnel who are involved with sample collection and testing in hospitals and diagnostic labs can have access to the website. As the number of positive cases is piling up, this initiative will empower authorities and well-being staff to higher reply to the disaster. They shall use the portal to discover patterns for potential solutions to their queries regarding their work. These queries range from the nature and process of data captured by test labs, information about documentation procedure for the inventory of test kits and reagents, and reporting various Government agencies and references of latest advancements and offer guidance.

Further, the queries are grouped into categories like Governance, Logistics, Data entry and sharing, Staff Training & Testing, among others. It can also answer common questions, offer the newest tips to fight COVID-19, in English and Hindi.

It may also help in onboarding new staff of diagnostics centers, as the COVID-19 test network expands across the country. Currently, Watson assistant has been employed by countries like the USA and Poland. In India, it leverages presently available data from external sources consisting of government sources like the Union Health Ministry for prevention and treatment-related guidance, citizen welfare schemes in India, as well as global resources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

ICMR’s Director-General Balram Bhargava said that it is essential to remain focused on testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 to minimize the dangers of the disease.

Sandip Patel, general manager, IBM India/South Asia, said, “As India rises to meet the challenge of Covid-19, it is crucial to enable government bodies such as ICMR to utilize data and capabilities effectively for rapid detection and treatment. This collaboration is GoodTech in action and a testament to IBM’s commitment of enabling governments, businesses, and citizens across the globe to have access to our technology and expertise in tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

India currently has 56,516 positive cases and 1895 deaths due to COVID-19. If adopting modern technologies can further help in our fight against this deadly pandemic, governments should open more doors for such partnerships.