How can a competition among computer programmers be helpful to find a vaccine against corona?

HackZurich, under the patronage of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), aims to use the collective intelligence of researchers, experts, technology specialists and fellow citizens to develop fresh ideas and solutions for dealing with and combating the Coronavirus.


My idea is: is a virtual virus similar with a real virus that an antivirus to covid-19 can be developed analogous to the construction of a virtual virus?

Is this a kind of bionics?


Edit: this question has been closed as opinion based.

But this answer by Thomas is the proof that there is evidence and scientific research:

Yes, they can, see e. g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30905159 (field of cheminformatics) re the possiblity of drug discovery in general via machine learning

  • Perhaps you can help this stanford project by just letting your computer for their calcs. The project is named folding@home
    – user19086
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 19:38
  • "Hackers" isn't the word you're looking for. The word you want is simply "programmers." As originally used by programmers, the word didn't have negative connotations, but the press got ahold of it, misunderstood it, and turned it into a word that means someone who uses a computer to gain unauthorized access to data, or to harm other computer systems.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 22:54
  • Hack-Zürich is the official name of this congregation of scientists and programmers who try to analyse the virus or write apps to track the virus. Hacking doesn't mean anything else than analyzing the information of given data. Why do you claim on the meaning that the press has given to some criminal hackers? There are criminals and misuse in all kind of subjects and disciplines. Who has here the sovereignty of interpretation? Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 13:10
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    You'll find the negative connotation in virtually any English language dictionary, and that's because much of the lay public uses the word in a negative sense. I'm well aware its original meaning among programmers was not negative (as I said) and is still used by them in that sense. But in a non-programming forum like this the word is likely to be interpreted negatively by many, if not most. But you're free to edit your question and revert my edits if you think using a slang word would somehow improve it.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 15:47
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    In general, I think that questions that begin "Is X possible" or "Can X happen" are usually speculative and opinion-based, but I'll go ahead and reopen.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


Yes, they can, see e. g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30905159 (field of cheminformatics) re the possiblity of drug discovery in general via machine learning. Generally, a vaccine is a specific applicative field of drug discovery that might benefit from machine learning as well, e. g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4395155/.


https://www.kaggle.com/allen-institute-for-ai/CORD-19-research-challenge/tasks is hosting such a "competition" based on scientific papers related to covid-19. You can find many notebooks showing what people have tried.

However, to be useful, I think patient data would be very valuable as well. Scientific text mining is in some ways currently quite limited for covid-19.

  • I’ve been thinking of this already in January but I thought this would be receipted as a joke. Now I’m surprised that they are working on it ... Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:18
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    @AlbrechtHügli medical text mining is a pretty big field so definitely would not have been viewed as a joke by competent people. Main issue is paywalls. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:19
  • As far as patient data goes, it is specially protected, for good reasons, so that may limit is availability.
    – Thomas
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 21:12
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    @Thomas indeed hard to access, for better (privacy) or worse (dying/suffering from some medical condition that have been cured/improved). Hopefully one day we can reconcile privacy with not patient data mining. I think we could already and we're just wasting lives. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 21:32

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