IBM and Scripps Research…… to treat COVID-19 – Dr Roy Vergis

Welcome Dr Roy Vergis, the pride of IBM. Very glad to introduce this world famous research analyst. He is part of our team too, as son of our respected columnist Shri Varghese Pamplanil. Thank you Varghese sir for making this research paper available to CCV – Joseph Mattappally (asso. editor)

Why Technology is a Gamechanger for Pandemics This week, IBM and Scripps Research are announcing a new crowdsourcing project that enables anyone with a computer to get involved in the search for compounds that might be used to treat COVID-19. 

The fact is, that while transportation has propelled the coronavirus around the world at astonishing rates, it is technology that is transforming our ability to tackle it. 

Video conferencing, online shopping, movie streaming and an infinite number of apps and websites enable many of us to live in self-isolation while staying connected, informed and productive. At the same time, there is a powerful arsenal of supercomputers, AI, cloud, chatbots, computing networks and hackathons coming online that enable us to work together as a global community to develop effective strategies, equipment and vaccines that we urgently need to fight back. 

Dr Roy Vergis, IBM's Clinical Lead in Oncology and a Consultant at IBM Watson Health, based in London, can brief you on the transformative role of technology in dealing with COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Here are some examples: 

Harnessing the World’s Spare Compute Power This week, IBM's World Community Grid will launch a new, crowdsourcing project designed by Scripps Research to tap the spare computing power on our personal computers to screen compounds that might be utilized to treat COVID-19. To help Scripps conduct virtual experiments, which require the processing of an immense amount of data, anyone with a computer or laptop can download a World Community Grid app and "donate" surplus computing power when the devices are idle. 

Accelerating Drug Discovery with Supercomputers IBM is leading a consortium of national labs and IT leaders to pool more than 330 petaflops of computing power to help researchers everywhere better understand COVID-19, its treatments and potential cures. For example, IBM’s Summit, the most powerful supercomputer on the planet, has already enabled researchers to screen 8,000 compounds to find those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells. Using Summit, scientists were able to recommend the 77 promising small-molecule drug compounds that could now be experimentally tested. We have hundreds of data scientists working on these projects. 

Monitoring & Modelling the Disease We have an unprecedented level of information and insight at our fingertips about the COVID-19. We can track in real time the number and spread of reported cases around the world through apps on our phones like The Weather Channel. Healthcare professionals can model what is going to happen next based on various public health scenarios and differing levels of response. We can forecast the demand on health services over time and adjust the public health policy accordingly. This is vital for decision making across government, business and society. IBM's computers and data scientists are supporting this modelling work around the world. 

Providing Trusted Information Health Ministries and other organizations are working under huge pressure to keep their citizens, customers and employees safe. To help lift the burden from call centers and speed up the flow of information, IBM is offering its chatbot technology, Watson Assistant for Citizens via the IBM Cloud at no charge for 3 months, and will assist with initial setup. Several COVID-19 chatbot services are already live around the world including those in Spain, Poland, Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic, the US, and many others are in the pipeline. 

Inspiring the Development of First-Line Solutions IBM has launched a global 'Call for Code' with the United Nations, in what we think will become the largest software developer effort in history, to develop technology solutions that can help seize and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives. Focus areas include community cooperation, remote education and crisis communications. Other hackathons include BuildforCOVID19 led by WHO, with support from tech companies around the world. 

Dr Roy Vergis is IBM's Clinical Lead in Oncology and Consultant at IBM Watson Health where he advises clients on the transformative potential of technology in healthcare. He is also an expert on Digital Health at the World Health Organization and an honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at the NHS’s Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, London. Over his two decades in clinical oncology, Dr Vergis has developed expertise in global health systems and services as well as innovations in digital health and technology. 

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