Can Distributed Computing Help Fight Coronavirus? Let’s Unveil the Truth!

Rashmi Bhardwaj | Blog,BUZZ

With the spread of Coronavirus pandemic from Chinese wet market to across the world, even an ordinary citizen is getting his or her share of responsibility from the government to fight the crisis. Now this share of responsibility is quite a simple one, just stay at home!

But there are individuals amid this crisis, who are willing to do more than that! These are the volunteers who are keen to donate their computing prowess to fight Coronavirus on the request of the government or other authorized agencies. Now the question arises how can distributed computing help fight Coronavirus? Well, a virtual supercomputer with the help of distributed computing projects could speed up the search for COVID-19 vaccine with inputs coming from across the globe.

The Strategy of Distributed Computing to Fight Coronavirus

Your home PC can help in the search for COVID-19 solution even at the time when you are not using the same. One of the key reasons behind the application of the distributed computing to fight the pandemic is the creation of Folding@home(FAH) project. It is one of a kind distributed computing project created by the researchers at Stanford University. It functions by connecting the unused processing power of desktop computers, laptops and gaming consoles across the globe. The connection of all these processing systems with one another virtually built a supercomputer.


The emphasize of the project is to focus on the virus component known as spike protein, that enables the latching of the virus to the cells of the human body, resulting to a phase that can trigger infection. One of the key challenges faced by the researchers is the constantly changing shape of the spike with respect to the fold and unfold of the protein. It is necessary to deeply analyse the same in order to study all the potential shapes and that is where the virtual computing power plays it’s role. That is the point where distributed computing help fight Coronavirus by faster predicting and modelling of a massive number of permutations and combinations.

Can Distributed Computing Help Fight Coronavirus? There is a Ray of Hope!

Distributed computing projects have helped the mankind in several research operations in the past 20 years. One of the first projects to implement this tactic was SETI@Home that scanned the skies for the signals of extra-terrestrial lifeforms. The initial objective of SETI@Home team was finding the services of 1,000 volunteers, but over 1 million signed up when it first went live. Now an interesting fact that most of you would not be familiar with is that in the year 1999 this team of volunteers churned through the quantity of data within 24 hours that would have taken over 1,000 years if computed through a single PC.

Today, the case is entirely different and it is not about scientific exploration but rather a matter of survival. The early signs of this joint effort of distributed computing against COVID-19 research are reflecting positive results. That is the reason why we can surely be more optimistic about the future.

How can Distributed Computing Help Fight Coronavirus Better than Microbiology?

Can Distributed Computing Help Fight Coronavirus? Well, the answer is yes! The reason behind this inference is the fact that the spike protein is extremely small to be studied and analysed through a microscope. In order to study and understand the structure of the protein genome, computer simulations and mathematical models are far more effective. The scientists across the world believe that the research into spike protein could help in finding a trusted way to tackle the virus and the decisive results can be anticipated soon. It has been proven that the virus is invading the human host cell by binding it with spike protein. The efforts are being made to find a way to curb this initial binding process, so that the virus does not get an opportunity to enter a healthy cell.

The keyboard warriors across the globe are tirelessly working to crack down the structure and behaviour of COVID-19 spike protein with the help of distributed computing. We fully hope that they soon find the ray of light that they are looking for and guide us out of this global pandemic.


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