Coronavirus News: Gamers vs. COVID-19 in search for a vaccine

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Gamers vs. COVID-19 in search for a vaccine
The search for a coronavirus vaccine could come through your home computer.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The search for a coronavirus vaccine could come through your home computer.

Millions of people around the world have agreed to let their desktops be used in the fight against COVID-19, with video gamers at the forefront of the effort.

But could playing video games actually help cure COVID-19? The answer is yes, says,Thomas Gronnevik, CEO and co-founder of social online gaming platform Wasder.

"Gamers are now stepping up and saying, 'Look, we have the resources, let us help fight this to the best of our ability,'" he said.

Those resources are contained in the hard drive of every home computer.

"There's a project at Stanford where they basically created a software that takes spare CPU and GPU cycles, some of the power from your computer, and utilizes that in medicine research," Gronnevik said.

The spare processing power is accessed by scientists by way of a website, explains Gregory Bowman, an Associate Professor at Washington University School of Medicine.

"What you can do as a gamer or someone, anyone who wants to help, is go to and download our software and start it up," he said. "And it'll run on the background on your computer."

Dr. Bowman is on front lines of the fight against the coronavirus, trying to understand it, and, "searching for small molecule chemicals to inhibit the virus."

But that's easier said than done.

"The calculations we want to run are extremely intensive," he said. "The easy ones would take like 100 years on a powerful desktop, and we have others that would take tens of millions of years."

These complex calculations can be performed in stages by tapping into the computers of gamers around the world. Their machines are ideal because their hardware tends to be more powerful than the average home computer.

"You know, a lot of times, games you're going about saving the virtual world," Dr. Bowman said. "And now, now this is an opportunity to bring that same attitude to bear on helping to save the real world, and it's really cool to see people coming together over that mission."