TECH Chinese tech giants devote cutting-edge technologies to COVID-19 fight


Chinese tech giants devote cutting-edge technologies to COVID-19 fight


12:56, November 23, 2021

Baidu announces its cooperation with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi to use its AI to improve mRNA technology on November 22, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

As the world rushes to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese tech firms are deploying their latest technologies to facilitate virus prevention efforts from vaccine development to patient detection.

The know-how from China, featuring the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics, are used on the front line of fight against the worst health crisis the world has faced in decades.

Beijing-based tech giant Baidu has reached an agreement with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi to use Baidu's algorithms in Sanofi's product design pipeline to optimize mRNA technology. The AI algorithms will improve mRNA therapeutics and efficiency in vaccine development.

Many companies are betting on the mRNA technology for vaccines. But the COVID-19 virus can mutate rapidly, making vaccine development and virus analysis more challenging comparing to other viruses. Its instability nature becomes a major limitation that affects the storage, distribution and efficacy of mRNA vaccines.

Baidu's AI can work 120 times faster than traditional way to analyze the virus sequence, helping the design of vaccine increase stability and effectiveness, according to the company.

"The emerging mRNA technology has rapidly advanced the science of vaccine and drug development for infectious diseases like COVID-19," said Tian Wu, Baidu corporate vice president.

"We have already seen that combining mRNA with computational biology tools makes the process quicker and more effective and has the potential to further transform drug discovery."

Currently, Pfizer's and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, which made to the World Health Organization's emergency use listing, is produced based on the mRNA technology.

An array of China's tech companies have contributed their own technologies to the combat against COVID-19.

The startup Infervision's AI algorithm can help doctors to detect lung infections generated by the coronavirus even with partial signs of the virus.

SenseTime, another Chinese startup, is helping public infrastructures such as subways to screen possible coronavirus-infected patients, helping frontline workers avoid potential infections.

Chinese drone maker DJI also uses the drones to spray the disinfectant, patrol and communicate in areas where the residents are in quarantine.

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