Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Corona - Silver Lining?

By: Alon Cohen

We are social distancing and working from home. We learned that it is possible to live and work that way, maybe even work more efficiently as we spend less time on social gatherings and save the daily commute. As one who worked from home for many years, I can say that it works even better when everyone is working from home.  

From the technology perspective, people finally discovered video conferencing and learned how to use it better with the benefits and the few problems it presents. Many even learned the importance of good lighting and an impressive backdrop.

Engineered or not, the virus highlighted the upcoming international battlefield. I wish these were not needed, but I hope that we will have an increase in the research budget for developing protections against such biological weapons. As a by-product, I hope it will help find cures for health problems that plague our society.

We suddenly discovered that developing Vaccines should not take ages. Hence the cost of development “as it usually takes ten years” being the usual excuse of the pharmaceutical companies will no longer be valid. 

Pharmaceutical companies need to stop wasting time searching mostly for medications to sustain life. They rather find ways to actually cure or prevent diseases using vaccines, regenerative medicine, and genetic-medicines

Given the ability of those genetic technologies to cause disasters on a global scale, it might be necessary for nations to own the IP (Intellectual Property) for drugs and vaccines by financing and directing the research. 

That emphasis should be on finding cures for diseases. A cure by its nature is a less lucrative outcome for the pharmaceutical companies because once they find a cure, the disease could be vastly eradicated. 

By directing and financing biological research, governments can legally leverage that new IP in the upcoming biological warfare.

Interestingly we may have created and proven a new business model where Phramacustical companies get paid a lump sum for a product that prevents disease, a vaccine. (Operation Warp Speed)

Maybe we can extend this model, and regulate pharma so that if they want to sell us non-generic drugs, they must introduce at least one preventative or curing medication per year (as opposed to life-sustaining medicines). Once they present such a cure, the pharmaceutical companies will get paid handsomely, upfront, because it will be worthwhile for the economy to get those newly cured, healthy people, back into the workforce.

We also learned that volunteers are willing to test new vaccines to save lives to help test them faster or as they call it one day sooner. Those people are heroes in my book.

I think we learned that as a nation, we must invest more in quantum computing as it holds the future for faster material and medicine research that would otherwise take years to achieve with standard computers.

I think we realize that when the doctor says, “you contracted a virus, there is nothing we can do...”, he is probably wrong. 

With the correct focus, we can defeat viruses from Herpes to the Common Cold, maybe even Influenza. By doing so, we contribute to the economy vast amounts of money that today is being wasted on hospitalizations and lost workdays. 

We used to say that trains, then the aviation, then the Internet made the world smaller, we now realize that infectious viruses make it even smaller. A Virus does not require infrastructure or energy to travel - just abondance of people. 

Internet communication can be blocked, intercepted, manipulated, and fire-walled. The Coronavirus showed us that viruses could jump any border and if we embed data in the virus DNA we can pass information in a direct person to person manner in a way that might be intercepted but not blocked or censored.

It means that a virus can be useful as a communication chanel. A virus can be “developed” as a data carrier. We can use the virus to broadcast information with, hopefully, positive ideas, maybe even a complete version of uncensored Wikipedia, and use them to circumvent even the “Great Wall of China” or thair firewall in today's term.


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