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Coronavirus: Comparing COVID-19, SARS and MERS in the eyes of AI

by   Anas Tahir, et al.

Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an extremely contagious and quickly spreading Coronavirus disease. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)-CoV outbreak in 2002 and 2011 and current COVID-19 pandemic all from the same family of Coronavirus. The fatality rate due to SARS and MERS were higher than COVID-19 however, the spread of those were limited to few countries while COVID-19 affected more than two-hundred countries of the world. In this work, authors used deep machine learning algorithms along with innovative image pre-processing techniques to distinguish COVID-19 images from SARS and MERS images. Several deep learning algorithms were trained, and tested and four outperforming algorithms were reported: SqueezeNet, ResNet18, Inceptionv3 and DenseNet201. Original, Contrast limited adaptive histogram equalized and complemented image were used individually and in concatenation as the inputs to the networks. It was observed that inceptionv3 outperforms all networks for 3-channel concatenation technique and provide an excellent sensitivity of 99.5 classifying COVID-19, MERS and SARS images respectively. Investigating deep layer activation mapping of the correctly classified images and miss-classified images, it was observed that some overlapping features between COVID-19 and MERS images were identified by the deep layer network. Interestingly these features were present in MERS images and 10 out of 144 images were miss-classified as COVID while only one out of 423 COVID-19 images was miss-classified as MERS. None of the MERS images was miss-classified to SARS and only one COVID-19 image was miss-classified as SARS. Therefore, it can be summarized that SARS images are significantly different from MERS and COVID-19 in the eyes of AI while there are some overlapping feature available between MERS and COVID-19.


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