How Alibaba, IBM And NVIDIA Are Helping Speed Up Coronavirus Vaccine Development

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With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the world, researchers all around are striving the best to find a vaccine to take down the novel coronavirus once and for all. 

And helping several researchers are tech companies with their state-of-the-art hardware and software to give them all a definitive edge.

Alibaba

Alibaba is popular with its cloud-computing infrastructure dubbed Alibaba Cloud. And now, Alibaba Damo Academy has offered its services to Chinese medical institutions to develop an AI system that can speed the diagnosis and analysis of the virus. 

The AI was able to identify the difference in images between highly suspected coronavirus-infected-pneumonia cases and non-infected cases in just 20 seconds — with an unprecedented accuracy of up to 96 percent.
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Now, they’re offering these cloud services to enterprises with $1000 vouchers, AI-powered computing platform and super-computing cluster to help institutions accelerate viral gene-sequencing, protein-screening and other research in COVID-19 treatment. They’re also offering online learning resources for Alibaba Cloud. 

NVIDIA

GPU maker Nvidia has also shown its support to help researchers swiftly crack the code for a COVID-19 vaccine. It has started providing e a free 90-day license to Parabricks to any researcher around the world, to find a solution to the novel coronavirus. Based on the well-known Genome Analysis Toolkit, Parabricks uses GPUs to accelerate by as much as 50 times the analysis of sequence data.

 Apart from this, It also asked its PC gamers on social media to put their powerful gaming PC hardware to use by researchers with the help of Folding@home software.

TWITTER: NVIDIA

The software will share the processing power of PCs (that you aren’t using) with researchers who desperately need it for running simulations to see what compound will work against COVID-19.

IBM

IBM granted emergency computation time on Summit, IBM’s state-of-the-art supercomputer (which is also the world’s fastest supercomputer), housed within the United States Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). 

What a standard system would have taken months for, IBM POWER9-powered system did in just one to two days. Through this, researchers identified 77-small molecule drug compounds that the ORNL stated could show positive signs fighting against SARS-CoV2 coronavirus — the compound responsible for COVID-19 disease.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY

Summit simulated over 8000 compounds to look for what would bind the best with the main spike protein on the coronavirus, rendering it incapable of infecting host cells. 

As per Jeremy Smith, governor’s chair at the University of Tennessee and director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics, “Our results don’t mean that we have found a cure or treatment for the Wuhan coronavirus. We are very hopeful, though, that our computational findings will both inform future studies and provide a framework that experimentalists will use to further investigate these compounds. Only then will we know whether any of them exhibit the characteristics needed to mitigate this virus.

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