Real-time Monitoring of the Evolving COVID-19 Virus

AN IMPACT STORY

Understanding the genetics of the COVID-19 virus so that we can better predict and manage variants.

As COVID-19 variants continue to emerge, there is an urgent need to understand the genetics of the virus so that we can better predict and manage variants.

Large volumes of genomic sequencing data are being generated to help understand, predict and treat COVID-19. However, this biomedical data is not shared widely or quickly enough. As a result, public health officials and companies developing diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics are unable to make the best data-driven decisions or fully measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

The Digital Supercluster’s COVID-19 program inspired Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack , to tackle this issue and approach thought leaders at diverse organizations, including Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) at McGill University, Mannin Research, Microsoft and Sunnybrook Hospital, among others.

According to Marc,

“It was astonishing to see how many partners throughout Canada stepped up and rallied in support of this common vision. Our country has so much talent – in AI, genomic medicine and policy. What’s so special about the Supercluster is that it enables us to build world-class consortiums and scale quickly in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

The result is COVID Cloud, a Digital Supercluster project that has developed an “all-in-one solution” to enable key data to be shared real time using global industry standards, providing scientists and decision makers with better information about COVID-19.

The project team made great progress this year. DNA Stack created an interactive dashboard, including an automated algorithm that estimates the rate of transmission of all variants as quickly as the data is received – triggering a software alarm when it appears there could be an outbreak. In addition, COVID Cloud is now a foundational element of Genome Canada’s national portal to detect, diagnose and anticipate the spread of new variants in partnership with the National Microbiology Laboratory.

DNAstack is also working with the Government of Ontario to increase the province’s ability to monitor variants.

In addition to all this, DNAstack is also working on initiatives to link genomics and clinical data to answer big questions, such as ‘can someone get reinfected with a new variant?’

In just one year, DNAstack has tripled in size and has exciting growth plans.

“We’re now working on a new version of COVID Cloud with more data and tools and starting to deploy it internationally,” notes Marc. “We’re also spinning out a new project as a result of the Supercluster to explore new diagnostics and therapeutics for severe COVID-19 cases, and we’re taking our technology to address autism and fight diseases such as cancer.”

Watch the COVID Cloud Project Video

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