KT (Korea Telecom) Corporation and SK Bioscience, a South Korea-based vaccine research and development firm, have announced grants totaling $13.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of COVID-related research studies.
KT, South Korea's largest telecommunications company, was awarded $10 million in support of a three-year research project focused on developing pandemic response solutions using artificial intelligence and big data. Co-funded by KT and the Gates Foundation, the project comprises two studies: one focused on improving AI-based early-diagnosis algorithms, and a second focused on developing models to forecast the spread of viral infections. In the first, KT will develop a mobile app that automatically inputs symptoms typically associated with viral infections, including a body temperature sensor tool, then analyze the collected data to create an algorithm that calculates the likelihood of infection. In the second, mobile data will be analyzed to examine regional epidemics and human mobility patterns to determine the direction of infection spread, which will then be used to develop forecasting models to predict seasonal outbreaks for specific regions.
SK Bioscience was awarded $3.6 million in support of research on the biologic structure of synthetic antigens that could serve as potential vaccine candidates for COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.
"The use of mobile technology and sensors paired with smart data analysis can help address some of the challenges countries face in timely and effective response to disease outbreaks," said Andrew Trister, deputy director of digital health innovation at the Gates Foundation. "Knowing where a disease is moving and being able to predict spread can help save time and save lives. We're pleased to be providing co-funding alongside Korea Telecom for this consortium of research partners. These will be valuable learnings for South Korea, and applicable to other geographies."
(Photo credit: GettyImages)