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COVID Blog #12: How tech is essential to finding a cure and treatment for COVID-19

As countries around the world struggle to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the push to find a treatment is moving rapidly. Several Canadian companies and partnerships are at the forefront of this battle, with technology being essential in determining the cause and cure of the virus.

With many feeling the long-term effects of isolation and social distancing, the question of when a vaccine will be available for the public is a big focus. An early trial of a vaccine developed by China’s CanSino Biologics Inc. will be tested in the near future on Canadians at Dalhousie University in Halifax – with the first clinical trial of the vaccine being tested on around 100 people between the ages of 18 and 55.

Tech Solutions from Canadians
In addition to a vaccine, there are also other promising treatments in development by Canadian scientists – a treatment made from a fully human monoclonal antibody identified from the first blood sample obtained from a North American patient who recovered from COVID-19. This is spearheaded by Vancouver-based biotech company AbCellera, in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company.

Two Canadian startups recently pitched potential solutions for overcoming the pandemic to NASA, after the aerospace organization put out a call for innovative ideas. Tevosol, a company known for its revolutionary technologies in supporting organ transplants, is offering to run tests on individual organs in order to speed up the process of drug trials for COVID-19.

“Being part of the solution makes you feel like you have some sense of control back again in your life,” says Tevosol co-founder Dr. Jayan Nagendran. “We’re not just victims of this right now, but we’ll also be part of the reason why this is curved and comes to an end.”

Another Canadian company, Aris MD, is also hoping to speed the process of drug trials along with the use of imaging technologies. They use augmented and virtual reality technologies to spot microscopic changes and improvements during drug trials.

Finding Solutions in Existing Technology
Canadian startups are getting creative by working on solutions that leverage what Canadians have already developed. Since vaccines take years of trials and testing to develop, Toronto-based company Cyclica is using its artificial intelligence platform to scan existing drugs on the market that contain proteins that could be effective in the fight against COVID-19.

While being able to reap the benefits of these potential solutions will still take some time, technologies such as contact tracing are being put to use by the Canadian company FaceDrive Health and The University of Waterloo. Their TraceScan app uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they have come into contact with someone who is carrying the virus.

Working Towards a COVID-free Future
Until a vaccine or innovative treatment is in place, technology is key to providing information and resources about COVID-19.

The Arrival Advisor app by PeaceGeeks provides the latest updates from the BC Centre for Disease Control on the virus for newcomers to Canada, and regular updates are posted to the World Health Organization’s website.

If you know of any tech companies with COVID-19 developments in identifying a treatment that we haven’t mentioned, please leave them in the comments below.

Jul 15, 2020
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