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New AI tool can thwart coronavirus mutations

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 — also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19 — isolated from a patient in the US. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Credit: NIAID-RML

USC researchers have developed a new method to counter emergent mutations of the coronavirus and hasten vaccine development to stop the pathogen responsible for killing thousands of people and ruining the economy.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), the research team at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering developed a method to speed the analysis of vaccines and zero in on the best potential preventive medical therapy.

The method is easily adaptable to analyze potential mutations of the , ensuring the best possible vaccines are quickly identified—solutions that give humans a big advantage over the evolving contagion. Their machine-learning model can accomplish design cycles that once took months or years in a matter of seconds and minutes, the study says.

“This AI framework, applied to the specifics of this virus, can provide vaccine candidates within seconds and move them to clinical trials quickly to achieve preventive medical therapies without compromising safety,” said Paul Bogdan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at USC Viterbi and corresponding author of the study. “Moreover, this can be adapted to help us stay ahead of the coronavirus as it mutates around the world.”

The findings appear today in Nature Research’s Scientific Reports

When applied to SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—the computer model quickly eliminated 95% of the compounds that could’ve possibly treated the pathogen and pinpointed the best options, the study says.

The AI-assisted method predicted 26 potential vaccines that would work against the coronavirus. From those, the

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At-Home Testing | CDC

You and your healthcare provider might consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and if you can’t get tested by a healthcare provider.

At-home collection kits and tests are available either by prescription or over the counter in a pharmacy or retail store without a prescription. Currently available at-home tests look for current infection.

Collecting Specimens

Wash your hands, then follow the instructions included with the specimen collection or test kit for collecting your own nasal or saliva specimen.

  • For the best results, collect and handle the specimens according to the manufacturer’s  instructions. If you don’t collect the specimens as directed, your test results may be incorrect.

Some tests require a nasal specimen that can be collected using an anterior nasal swab or a nasal mid-turbinate swab. Other tests require a saliva specimen.

Illustration of a collection kit

Once collected, send the specimen to a testing facility or use the specimen, as described in the manufacturer’s instructions, to complete the at-home test.

Performing the Test

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly and in the order specified. The manufacturer may also provide other resources, such as quick reference guides or instructional videos, to help you perform the test correctly.


  • Store all test components according to the manufacturer’s instructions until ready for use.
  • Don’t use expired tests or test components that are damaged or discolored.
  • Disinfect the countertop, table, or other surface where you will do the test.
  • Don’t open test devices or other test components until the testing process is about to occur.
  • Read and record test results only within the amount of time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. A result read before or after the specified timeframe may not be correct.
  • Don’t reuse test devices or other components.

After you have the