During this outbreak, with things evolving so rapidly, it's critical to be able to communicate the most up-to-date information quickly and easily to anyone who needs it. Conversational experiences, such as virtual agents and bots, give organizations worldwide a powerful way to offer accurate, timely information in an empathetic, approachable way. It also gives employees, customers, partners, and the public an easy channel to tell you what matters to them. Virtual assistants can rapidly help address critical needs, not only to answer FAQ, but also scale triage to free up doctors and nurses for critical care, expand accessibility for vulnerable populations, improve productivity for remote work and learning, and more.

What it does

The Microsoft Bot Framework Solution includes a powerful and flexible set of tools that make it easy to build and maintain effective virtual assistants, and deploy them instantly to the cloud.

We built and deployed a prototype in just a few days that answers common questions about COVID-19. It draws from official info on the WHO FAQ and MythBuster pages, CDC site, and John Hopkins. You can use the same process to create your rapid-response team and deploy your solution.  First, let's see the prototype in action.

You can ask -

  1. I'm worried about COVID? - Answer from WHO FAQ
  2. Can I get COVID from mosquitoes? - Answer from WHO MythBuster
  3. I have a fever, what do I do? Pointing you to CDC self assessment bot built using Microsoft health bot service on Bot Framework
  4. What's the situation in NY? data from John Hopkins.
  5. How to apply for help if unemployed? We curated answers based on most asked queries on Bing

We also added a persona offers empathetic and thoughtful responses to queries that are more personal and emotional. For example

  1. I'm lonely
  2. I need a hug

With Azure Bot Service, you can instantly deploy your bot to a range of channels, apps, and devices. For this demo, we connected our bot to Web Chat, Teams, and WeChat."

How I built it

We followed the exact best practices I shared in linked in:

  1. We designed our scenarios, formed a multi-discipline team.
  2. We bootstrapped 3 Knowledge Bases: WHO, Top Asked from Bing, Caring Personality Chat
  3. We picked the right development tool, which is the Virtual Assistant solution.
  4. We started simple, and rolled out fast We used the Power BI template, and have a monitoring process to iterate rapidly

Challenges I ran into

Really hard to fit into a 2-minute video! :)

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Microsoft Virtual Assistant solution ( enables individuals and organizations around the world build an effective virtual assistant and deployed to cloud very quickly. This comes with source code on GitHub, template and script to create resources and deploy to cloud, together with tutorials, best practices, and documentation to help you get started. This can be integrated into your existing systems if needed.

We've built a sample of a virtual assistant answering common questions related to COVID-19, built using Microsoft Virtual Assistant solution accelerator. This includes

  • A WHO FAQ re-usable knowledge base, which we created and optimized based on FAQs and MythBusters from the World Health Organization (WHO) (61 question and answer pairs with 640+ variations)
  • Top Asked Bing intent, which we curated FAQs based on most frequently asked coronavirus related questions across search engines such as Bing (29 questions and 100+ question variations) .
  • A re-usable Caring Personality Chat dataset that offers empathetic and thoughtful responses to queries that are more personal and emotional, such as  “Who made you“, “I’m lonely”, “I’m sad”, “I need a hug”, “Will you be my friend”, “Can I have a high give? (89 question and answer pairs that handle 500+ questions)
  • A Latest Number skill that handles number-related intents specific to countries and states, and provides answers based on John Hopkins data.

What I learned

Best practices of Building Virtual Assistant Responding to COVID-19

What's next for Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator Scaling Bot Creation

Please fill out this form ( if you want to try out our bot prototype or are interested in the WHO KB or Caring personality chat dataset that can be re-usable for your needs.

Try It out



azure, azure-bot-service, c, cognitive-service, microsoft-azure-ai, microsoft-bot-framework, microsoft-bot-framework-virtual-assistant-template, microsoft-power-bi, microsoft-qna-maker, microsoft-virtual-assistant-solution, typescript

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