The High-Tech Offensive Against The New Coronavirus

9th March 2020 |
6 min read

Coronavirus – it is of paramount importance we fight this threat as quickly as possible, as it spreads rapidly and is highly contagious. Fear not, for we are far from losing to the virus. Modern technology and data, primarily developing in the healthcare sector is here to save us. Let’s take a closer look at the high-tech efforts to find the remedy for the coronavirus.

How it all begun?

The date is March 31st, 2019, Wuhan, China the capital of Hubei – one of the Chinese provinces. A virus that’s a part of the Coronaviridae family, that we commonly call the new coronavirus, or COVID-19 (Corona-Virus-Disease-2019) is detected. Fast forward to March 5th, 2020. With the rapidly increasing number of confirmed cases, a handful of questions arise; what are our chances of containing the spread of the virus and opposing the threat to the global economy? Thankfully, we are not helpless, the answers and essential support can be provided by rapidly reacting tech sector.

At the time of this article, coronavirus has already spread around the globe. From China, the source of the outbreak (80,000+ confirmed cases), through Europe (9500+ cases), to both Americas (300+ cases combined) and even Australia (74 cases) and New Zealand (5 cases)[1]. It all adds up to a whopping 100,000+ cases worldwide with the increasing death toll of 3,000 in less than three months. Unfortunately, the numbers increase every day, and the coronavirus is particularly dangerous to seniors/elderly with underlying health conditions and young children/infants. 

It is of paramount importance we fight this threat as quickly as possible, as it spreads rapidly and is highly contagious. Fear not, for we are far from being defeated by the virus! Modern technology and data, primarily developing in the healthcare sector is here to save us. Let’s take a closer look at the efforts to find the remedy for the coronavirus.

High-tech & AI to the rescue

For several years now, AI has been commonly used in healthcare. Primarily because it’s faster and more efficient. AI can be immensely helpful in the drug discovery process, especially in:

  • Designing chemical structures of new drugs
  • Investigating the effect of a drug – both in basic, preclinical research and clinical trials

These are the two most important stages of the drug development process. And the most time-consuming as well. What takes at least several years for human physicians and scientists, AI algorithms can conduct within minutes. Consider an example of the BenevolentAI company[2]. Thanks to the Artificial Intelligence algorithms that the company possesses, they were able to suggest what medicines ought to be helpful in fighting coronavirus. There is a drug baricitinib among their recommendations. BenevolentAI believes that it could reduce the ability of the virus to infect lung cells.

According to Joanna Shields, the company’s CEO, BenevolentAI team focused their research on already approved drugs (chemical combinations that had already passed rigorous safety testing) so that they could be given to patients immediately.

In search of an effective vaccine

Research to find an efficient vaccine has already started. It is critical to invent it, as it can protect people against future outbreaks of the coronavirus. But we have to bear in mind that its impact will not be immediate, nor bewildering.

According to the Wellcome Trust[3] and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, four vaccine development projects have already started. These projects are being conducted by[4]:

  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals
  • The University of Queensland
  • Biotech company Moderna
  • A biopharmaceutical company CureVac AG[5]

Although all of these companies and institutions have already pulled their socks up, we have to wait for the first results to emerge. Actually, it could even take a few months before early human trials can begin, and several more months before we understand if the vaccine is efficient and safe to use. All in all – we rather won’t see a ready-to-use vaccine in 2020.

The high-tech protective fabrics and personal hygiene

While we are waiting for the first vaccine, each one of us should take good care of ourselves. There are at least two essential facets of this protection:

  • Maintaining high hygiene standards
  • Using protective masks and clothing

By high hygiene standards, we mean those recommended by the World Health Organization, and they are as follows[6]:

  • Wash your hands frequently (use warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand rub)
  • Maintain social distancing (at least 1 meter between you and anyone who is coughing or sneezing)
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice respiratory hygiene (cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze)
  • If you have any suspects that you might be sick – seek medical care ASAP

You can find out more about these recommendations and hygiene principles here.

What about protective fabrics? 

It’s a vital question since a regular surgical mask will not protect you from the coronavirus. Simply because they weren’t designed to protect the owner from the viral particles in the first place. An N95 respirator seems to be a better choice, but keep in mind that you have to maintain high hygiene of wearing it[7]!

Does a high-tech sector have anything to say here? Luckily, yes! For instance, there is an Israel-based start-up called Sonovia that believes its nanoparticle-infused fabric can be exceedingly protective if used in medical masks, protective clothing, and hospital materials like bedding and gowns.

Sonovia has over seven years of experience in this matter. They started developing their first bacteria resistant fabric out of Bar-Ilan University back in 2013. Now they claim they have devised a new anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric, and sent it over to labs in China for testing. What makes them stand out? While other companies and institutions working in this niche typically use silver particles in their products, Sonovia uses other, low-cost solution: Metal-oxide nanoparticles from zinc oxide and copper oxide.

We believe in technology!

As you can see, when it comes to struggling against coronavirus, there is a lot going on. Today, we barely scratched the surface of this subject. If you are interested, you can broaden your knowledge and read about high-tech containers designed for sending vital supplies, or UVD self-driving disinfection robots, which are currently used to kill viruses and bacteria autonomously, and thus curb the spread of coronavirus.

Although all of that may sound a bit disturbing, our intent is far from causing you any anxiety. At Innovatika, we are passionate about technology and we believe it can be of great help and the answer to people’s pains and gains. That’s why we are here! We combine technology, industry trends, creative thinking, and a customer-centric approach to launch products and services that generate value for users and companies. We make businesses relevant and help them grow in times of digital shift as well as in times of crisis. Talk to us and learn how technology can improve both business and people’s live – give us a call or drop us a line!

[1]  https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200308-sitrep-48-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=16f7ccef_4
[2] https://sifted.eu/articles/coronavirus-tech-startups-europe
[3] https://wellcome.ac.uk/news/covid-19-how-researchers-around-world-are-racing-understand-virus-and-prevent-future-outbreaks
[4] https://cepi.net/news_cepi/cepi-launches-new-call-for-proposals-to-develop-vaccines-against-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/
[5] https://cepi.net/news_cepi/curevac-and-cepi-extend-their-cooperation-to-develop-a-vaccine-against-coronavirus-ncov-2019/
[6] https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
[7] https://www.livescience.com/face-mask-new-coronavirus.html

Klaudia Kożusznik
Klaudia Kożusznik
Communication Catalyst, Head of Growth
“Problem solver, critical & creative thinker, curiosity mind. Specialist in CX and communication. Klaudia led multidisciplinary teams across various organisations. Based on design thinking approach she helped brands in defining customers needs and turned those into efficient communication strategies, customer oriented processes, products and services. As a workshop facilitator she runs meetings in the field of Lean Startup, Design Thinking and digital rapid prototyping. “

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