We launched our AI for Health program in January to use artificial intelligence (AI) and data to help improve the health of people and communities worldwide. Shortly thereafter, Covid-19 hit us head on and became a global health pandemic that upended the lives of people, communities and economies around the world. Recognizing the global impact of this disease, we mobilized AI for Health in April to focus on helping those on the front lines of Covid-19 research.

Early on, we had no idea the tenacity and duration of the disease. But, as of the time of writing, there have been more than 50 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, and more than 1.25 million deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Despite the ongoing efforts of scientists, researchers and policymakers, Covid-19 continues to change and shift the world as we know it.

The Covid-19 crisis has made it painfully clear that health transcends every border, impacting every person on the planet. As such, we want to empower researchers, nonprofits and policymakers with resources including Azure High Performance ComputingPower BI analytics and open datasets from GitHub. Non-profits and health care have less than 5% of global AI resources, so we have made our top data scientists and researchers available to support those on the front lines. Since April, through AI for Health, we’ve awarded over 150 grants to Covid-19 projects around the world.

Our grantees and partners have shared access to Microsoft’s AI technology, and these resources have accelerated the progress made in their research. With large-scale computing and open data, what used to take months can now be done in a matter of days. The rapid progress means researchers can more quickly identify potential solutions to combat Covid-19 and provide timely information to policymakers for data-driven decisions that protect communities, cities and regions. We are proud to support the work that is being done to fight this disease and remain committed in our support.

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 AI for Health Covid-19 response by the numbers

Through our program, we have seen that 39% of grantee projects are focused on treatment and diagnostics, including UCB and University of California, Riverside. Meanwhile, grantees focused on data and insights, including IHME, Washington State Department of Health and University of Notre Dame, made up 31% of the grants. Some 14% of the projects, such as Folding@home, were focused on basic scientific research. The remaining projects, including grantees such as Duke University, were focused on allocation of resources (8%) and dissemination of accurate information (8%) from grantees such as Take.

Highlights from AI for Health Covid-19 response grantees include:

We also have incredible partnerships with top organizations that extend our Covid-19 efforts, such as:

Lastly, by using publicly available information from partners such as USAFacts, we have created a number of interactive visualizations to provide transparency into Covid-19 trends globally.

We also created a unique measure called Progress to Zero to help everyone understand, in simple terms, our progress in reducing Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

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In the U.S., we’ve updated the dashboard to show Covid-19 risk levels by congressional districts to help policymakers understand the progress and actions they need to take against the disease.

Our partners and grantees make progress against Covid-19 every day, but there is still much to do to fight the disease. The great work being done by our partners and grantees emboldens us to continue working tirelessly against Covid-19, while also supporting and helping those on the front lines. We are humbled by their incredible efforts and remain committed to supporting researchers and policymakers around the world as they tackle this terrible disease.