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Unexpected Importance of the Blockchain Technology in Search of the COVID-19 Vaccine

 
Unexpected Importance of the Blockchain Technology in Search of the COVID-19 Vaccine
Breaking News / Blockchain / BTCUSD

Right now the whole world is engulfed in panic because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a lot of theories circulating regarding the origins of the virus, and a lot of them have a conspiratorial bent to them. Some believe that a pathogen escaped from a lab in Wuhan, others blame the government (any government) for the spread of the virus and its debilitating effect on everyone's lives. And while people are searching for someone to blame, medical researchers have all hands on deck looking for a vaccine that could stop the infection and rid the world of COVID-19, maybe forever. Some analysts are predicting that it could take at least a year to develop a proper vaccine while Johnson & Johnson recently announced that their test-vaccine is going to be ready by September. However, even if the medical device corporation manages to produce a vaccine that early, it might take a while before it can be used in widespread manner. Most projections have a vaccine rollout penciled in around the beginning of 2021.

Miners and Their Computing Power

Like other industries, the crypto community has united to provide support in the all-important vaccine search. While it may seem that blockchain technology has nothing to do with the medical field, crossover projects have proven that it can be useful if applied correctly. One of the main sectors involved in the research right now is crypto miners who are teaming up to aid in the development process. The largest U.S-based Ethereum miner, CoreWeave, announced their plans to use the power of more than 6,000 computers, which had been earning more than $3,000 per day, to create a decentralized super-computer that will contribute to the development of the vaccine. Independent miners all around the world are joining the initiative and adding to the potential of the development process.

Another important project in this field, Folding@home, which was actually created 20 years ago, has been picking up a lot of traction recently due to the current circumstances. This project allows medical researchers to use the pooled computing powers of project participants to help solve their calculations. Results are processed in order to analyze protein folding and find spaces for other molecules to fit in a way that can interfere with the virus's function.

Though Folding@Home has been working on researching several different diseases over the course of its existence, it has recently made COVID-19 research its main focus. In March, when the public was informed of the beginning of the pandemic, Folding@Home suddenly went from 30,000 volunteers contributing to the project to 700,000. Because of the sudden surge of the number of users involved, databases ran out of the relevant calculations and servers overloaded.

Despite these complications, as a result of the uptick in participation, the project reached its peak performance of 1.5 exaFLOPs, making it more than seven times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer. So the potential of this computing power for research is enormous. If the research efforts are successful, new drugs and treatments can be discovered to help end the disease.

Several crypto communities have gotten involved with the project over the last couple of months. Bitcoin-related Folding@Home teams, and eight other cryptocurrency-related teams, collectively account for 3000 CPUs. The aforementioned Ethereum mining firm, CoreWeave, has dedicated over 7000 GPUs to protein folding. Dogecoin and Tezos communities incentivized their members to participate by offering small rewards for the work that each user contributes to the team. While the rewards are not very significant, many users joined the initiative and others donated to the prize pool.

There are also several cryptocurrency projects allowing users to earn rewards directly at Folding@Home. Gridcoin, Curecoin, and Foldingcoin all offer users small amounts of cryptocurrency based on how much work they contribute to the platform. It is also important to notice that all of these cryptocurrency projects are not only contributing themselves but they are also promoting Folding@Home and urging many others to join. In addition, some exchanges are assisting the project while supporting the coins involved. For example, HitBTC published an exclusive interview with the Curecoin team to inform the public of their mission and how it can be completed successfully. The support that Folding@Home has received from the crypto community has armed it well in its fight against the virus and has inspired hope around the world for a timely solution to the pandemic.

COVIDathon

The first decentralized artificial intelligence hackathon, COVIDathon, has been designed to assist the global medical industry in creating solutions to combat COVID-19. It was launched by the Decentralized AI Alliance, or DAIA, that currently has more than 50 members, including SingularityNET, Ocean Protocol, Aragon, Shivom, NEM, InboundJunction, as well as communities of healthcare professionals, biotechnologists and geneticists. The goal is to bring together AI and blockchain projects to create intelligent decentralized tools to combat COVID-19 in the present and reduce risks for future outbreaks.

DIY Vaccine

There is another Bitcoin-related initiative focused on the development of COVID-19 vaccine. Instead of just contributing their computing power to another project, Bitcoiners have united to crowdfund a DIY plasmid DNA vaccine. The people behind the project identified their goal as developing a potential vaccine by designing the necessary protocols and components, and subsequently by manufacturing it themselves. Any DNA sequences and hardware they develop during this project will be made publicly available and accessible under permissive licenses. Due to the nature of this research, and potential liability issues, the team is anonymous. However, the biologist involved has over 10 years of experience in bioproduction, including large-scale manufacturing of DNA vaccines in FDA-compliant laboratories, the project claims.

The Promise of a Better Future

Overall, the hardship of the current situation has brought out the positive in the crypto community. It showed how quickly and efficiently projects involved in the industry and their vast user bases can unite in the goal of reaching something helpful for humanity. It is the same “better future” promise of Satoshi's vision for the crypto but now put to a real-life test. Hopefully, results will be seen very soon and we’ll be able to thank all of those in the community that have helped out in this difficult search for the COVID-19 vaccine.

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