If there is one thing that has come to dominate almost the entirety of 2020, it is the Covid-19 pandemic. The first reported case of the Coronavirus infection in mankind has been from the Wuhan province of China. None perhaps have been prepared for what unfolded next.
It wasn’t long enough for the virus to create mayhem in most parts of the world, spreading eventually to more than 100 countries within just months. Not surprisingly, the biotechnology industry rose to the occasion, trying to make sense of chaos that almost none know a precedent of.
Countless biotech professionals all over the world got down to devise methods of antibody production that would be effective while also having the least side-effects. After all, it is this that the masses would be looking for, an effective cure for the deadly disease.
Mentioned below is a brief synopsis of how biotechnology is helping to handle the Covid-19 outbreak.
Laboratories have put to use the best technological means at their disposal in developing the medicine that can cure the disease or a vaccine that can help prevent the same. For instance, Artificial Intelligence based solutions are helping the professionals in selecting the components that it feels would make for the right combination in combatting the disease.
The idea here is to make sense of the tens of thousands of research papers to have a better understanding of the protein expression related to the Covid-19 virus. This will make the medical team have a clearer picture of what they are up against and the sort of response that is needed. Without the help of the right technological tools, this would have been an almost impossible task, betting on pure luck instead to come across a cure.
Take for instance Google’s initiatives in this aspect. Google DeepMind developed AlphaFold which when fed with the genetic sequence of a protein will be able to predict the 3D structure of the same.
Similarly, the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health came up with the technology that led to the creation of the 3D atomic-scale map of what has come to be known as the spike protein. The reason why this makes for significant development in the fight against the coronavirus is that the spike protein is the portion of the virus that attaches to the human cell, infecting it in the process.
Tackling the outbreak
While developing the drug needed is one way of attacking and eliminating the chances of human infection, identifying and isolating the infected person is also equally important given the highly contagious nature of the virus. Big Data and AI can help in the effective management of both. Advanced Facial Recognition technologies with data are being used to identify those who seem to have been infected.
So accurate the modern facial recognition technologies have come to be that those have proved to be largely accurate with their identification even if the people are masked. Technology is also employed to track those the infected person has come in contact with and isolate them as well if necessary. This is required in breaking the chain of infection, a critical step towards containing the spread of the pandemic.
No-contact temperature monitoring system
Wireless thermometer guns based on infrared technology has become one of the most widely used tools in identifying those who might have already started showing symptoms of infection. These guns can measure the body temperature from a distance and have become a common sight at most places to identify those who might need further medical assistance. In many places, automatic identification systems using thermal guns and facial recognition are used for effective screen of the public.