Qatar’s Covid-19 mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert said on Monday at a webinar.

“Qatar stands at number three in the number of Covid-19 positive cases in the GCC region. However, with over 10,000 such cases, the death rate is very low, super low as only 10 people have died so far. It is only about 0.1%, one of the lowest in the world,” said Dr Nan Tang, a scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

He was speaking at a webinar series launched by Qatar Centre for Artificial Intelligence (QCAI) to highlight the role of AI and Big Data analysis in the fight against Covid-19.

“The low mortality rate in this case, points to the excellent care provided by the healthcare system in the country. Moreover, over 1,000 of the total positive cases have also recovered, which is another outcome of the efficient treatment provided in the country,” noted Dr Tang.

Dr Tang was joined by Dr Mohamed Amin Sadeghi, another QCRI scientist who discussed several aspects related to the Covid-19 outbreak. Dr Sanjay Chawla, research director, QCAI, moderated the session while Dr Ahmed K Elmagarmid, founding executive director, QCRI welcomed the participants. QCAI will run five more such webinars in the coming days.

According to Dr Tang, globally the Covid -19 peak could vary depending on various elements. “On an optimistic estimation, it could peak in another two weeks and will go flat thereafter. However, on a pessimistic estimation, it can peak all the way until August this year and then will start flattening. However, we must take a middle level of both the estimations and nothing can be said with certainty on the issue,” explained Dr Tang.

The AI expert also noted that following the pattern of several previous epidemics that the world has witnessed so far, there could be resurgences of the epidemic until a vaccine is found for the virus.

“Several such pandemics in the past had seen three waves and the ensuing cycles were more devastating than the first one. There were three waves for the 1918 pandemic as well as for the H1N1. In both cases, the second and third waves were more devastating than the first wave. If such a situation repeats in the case of Covid-19, there might be more waves after the first wave has subsided,” he noted.

Dr Sadeghi pointed out that Covid-19 has been spreading exponentially all across the world but such growth cannot go on for a long time.

“We have to stop the reproduction of the virus and social distancing is the best way to avoid the spread of the virus. In Italy, at the beginning, the spread was about 4.8% and after 45 days with social distancing and lockdown it came down to 1.5% and after 90 days it fell further to 0.5%. However, the virus reproduction rate could go lower in summer months while it could go higher in the winter season,” he highlighted.

“Ultimately, the world needs an effective vaccine. But another way we can stop the virus is through herd immunity, which is similar to vaccine but natural unlike the vaccine,” Dr Sadeghi added.

However, some experts have questioned the adoption of the herd immunity policy in the case of Covid-19 because of the still unknown characteristics of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.