When you’re fighting a pandemic, almost nothing matters more than speed. A little-known band of doctors and hi-tech wizards say they were able to find the vital speed needed to attack the coronavirus: the computing power of artificial intelligence. They call their new weapon “outbreak science.” It could change the way we fight another contagion. Already it has led to calls for an overhaul of how the federal government does things. But first, we’ll take you inside BlueDot, a small Canadian company with an algorithm that scours the world for outbreaks of infectious disease. It’s a digital early warning system, and it was among the first to raise alarms about this lethal outbreak.It was New Year’s Eve when BlueDot’s computer spat out an alert: a Chinese business paper had just reported 27 cases of a mysterious flu-like disease in Wuhan, a city of 11 million. The signs were ominous. Seven people were already in hospitals.Almost all the cases came from the city’s sprawling market, where live animals are packed in cages and slaughtered on-site. Medical detectives are now investigating if this is where the epidemic began, when the virus made the leap from animals to us. Dr. Kamran Khan Half


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