This week, the World Health Organization said it expects the number of new coronavirus infections to rise to over a million cases in the coming days, with UN chief Antonio Guterres saying that in additional to the danger to public health, the pandemic is set to become the biggest threat to global peace since World War II.

The COVID-19 outbreak may lead nations to create a new kind of ‘immunity passport’ to try to ensure that travelers entering various countries are in a good state of health, a study by Germany’s Deutsche Bank seen by Barron’s magazine suggests.

According to researchers, COVID-19 has shown just how quickly the world can change beyond recognition in a matter of weeks, and it won’t be surprising if countries remain reluctant to open their borders, even after the crisis abates, without new tools.

Deutsche Bank expects tourism to be the last industry to return to normal, and says people from countries which cannot prove their good health somehow will most likely have to cancel their trips. Alternatively, proof of good health could come in the form of an ‘immunity passport’ – a secure, smartphone-based tool containing information about the user’s wellbeing.

If the technology becomes available quickly enough, such ‘immunity passports’ could promote tourism and travel. If not, the ban on travel could be replaced with mandatory periods of self-isolation upon arrival, researchers say.

The study expects the world economy to face the consequences of states focusing on domestic economic needs before opening back up to the outside world for some time to come. It also predicts that “by June, workers within countries will have resumed their jobs, retail stores will be open, and restaurants functioning,” even if social distancing measures remain in place for some time.

Analysts also expect some countries to face several rounds of lockdowns, given the experiences of Hubei, China, but optimistically suggest that with a better understanding of how the virus spreads, and more sophisticated testing, governments may not have to resort to tough lockdown measures in force in many countries today.

The study comes in the wake of another analysis by Deutsche Bank economists last week which said that there was no historical precedent for the current economic crisis, which makes forecasts more difficult. “These are truly unprecedented events with no adequate historical example with which to precisely anchor our forecast. The evolution of the virus is also highly uncertain,” economist Peter Hooper said in that study.

Since its emergence in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in late 2019, the new coronavirus has gone on to infect over 981,000 people worldwide, killing 50,200 to date and wreaking havoc on the global economy, as well as drastically limiting civil liberties in some countries.

AI Tools Developed to Predict COVID-19 Case Severity - Research

An artificial intelligence (AI) model which can predict whether a COVID-19 patient will experience a severe illness has been jointly developed by researchers from China and the US. The research was based on 53 patients from China and its findings were 70 to 80 percent accurate.

"The predictive model learns from historical data to help predict who will develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe outcome of COVID-19," read a research article by Jiang Xiangao, Megan Coffee and others published in Computers, Materials & Continua Magazine on Tuesday.

Among all clinical symptoms, "a mildly elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (a liver enzyme), the presence of myalgias (body aches), and elevated hemoglobin (red blood cells), in this order, are the clinical features, on presentation, that are the most predictive," read the article.

Meanwhile, key diagnosis characteristics including fever, lymphopenia and chest imaging were not as predictive of severity, it said.

The coronavirus pandemic has spread rapidly across the world in recent days, with a total of 939,436 confirmed infections and 47,287 deaths as of 2 April, per data from Johns Hopkins University. The US topped the list with 216,722 confirmed cases.

Given the rapid spread and increasing caseloads, there is an urgent need to develop clinical skills to rapidly identify which mild cases could progress to critical illnesses, according to the research.

Based on 53 patients from two hospitals in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, the research intended to establish an AI framework with predictive analytics (PA) capabilities applied to real patient data, to provide rapid clinical decision-making support.

AI technology has been widely used during the period of virus prevention and treatment in China, including the use of thermo detectors and disinfection robots.

Though the research did not use a large database, the article noted that overall accuracy among the included cases was 70 to 80 percent.