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AI used to 'predict next coronavirus'

Scientists have used AI to figure out where the next novel coronavirus may emerge.

The team of researchers used a combination of machine learning and fundamental biology as their artificial intelligence algorithm predicted more potential hosts of strains than have been detected.

The study was published in the Nature Communications journal, and Dr. Marcus Blagrove - virologist at the University of Liverpool - said: "We want to know where the next coronavirus might come from.

"One way they're generated is through recombination between two existing coronaviruses - so two viruses infect the same cell and they recombine into a 'daughter' virus that would be an entirely new strain."

The algorithm was first tasked with finding biological patterns to predict which mammals could be susceptible to coronavirus.

This revealed links between 876 specials and 411 strains of coronavirus.

The predictive step looked at specials able to harbour several viruses.

Dr. Maya Wardeh - lead researcher - noted how she used biological knowledge to teach the AI to find patterns.

She said: "We were able to predict which species had the chance for many coronaviruses to infect them.

"Either because they are very closely related [to a species known to carry a coronavirus] or because they share the same geographical space."

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