Protecting Canadians by Predicting the Evolution of COVID-19
Preparing for the second COVID-19 wave with AI predictions of virus changes.
Partner Co-investment* - $3.0M
Supercluster Co-investment* - $1.8M
Project Budget*- $4.9M
Like global pandemics of the past, COVID-19 is predicted to deliver a second wave of spread and infections in the coming months. Mutations of the virus, some of which have likely already occurred and are present in the wider population, will play a role in driving the next wave. It’s a process similar to the way new variants of the influenza virus emerge and spread every year.
Changes in the virus structure bring changes in how the virus can be detected and treated in patients and slowed or stopped from spreading.
Predicting those changes is the goal of the Protecting Canadians by Predicting the Evolution of COVID-19 project led by Terramera and bringing together the University of British Columbia, Menten AI, Microsoft, D-Wave, and ProMIS Neurosciences.
Massive amounts of computation power will be used, and powerful binary, quantum, and hybrid computing approaches could help unlock possible mutations of the virus. A combination of artificial intelligence and computer modelling will be used to forecast potential changes in the virus and build detailed understandings of possible virus structures.
The work will zero in on one part of the coronavirus – the viral spike protein. A coronavirus invades a healthy cell via these spikes, which vary between different coronaviruses.
In addition to determining possible mutations of the protein spikes behind COVID-19, the process will also determine whether the protein spike would be functional, how likely it is to emerge, and whether it would be inactivated by antibodies against the current version of the virus. This virtual work gives researchers a real-life head start. Before the mutations actually emerge, work can be done to develop vaccines that would provide immunity to the mutated version of COVID-19, to create therapeutics to treat people with the new version of COVID-19, and to develop the antibody tests that would determine new cases and make contact tracing possible.
Solutions will be shelf–ready and will help prepare health systems with potential responses so they can protect Canadians from future outbreaks.
*amounts at time of project selection