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COVID-19 and the Bio-Revolution

As the novel coronavirus infects millions worldwide and ravages the global economy, our best hope to overcome it is a new and rapidly evolving generation of biological tools and capabilities. But addressing COVID-19 only scratches the surface of what biological innovation can do.

HAMBURG – Rarely has the promise of biology commanded as much of the world’s attention as it has during the COVID-19 crisis. As the novel coronavirus infects millions worldwide and ravages the global economy, our best hope to overcome it is a new and rapidly evolving generation of biological tools and capabilities. But addressing COVID-19 only scratches the surface of what biological innovation can do.

Advances in biological sciences have been gathering pace since the human genome was mapped – a 13-year process completed in 2003. As new research from the McKinsey Global Institute shows, the resulting bio-revolution has been driven by rapid progress in computing, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI).

MGI’s research identified about 400 biotech applications already visible in the pipeline of innovation, which together could generate up to $4 trillion annually over the next 1-2 decades. More than half of that would fall outside the realm of human health, in domains such as agriculture and food, consumer products and services, and materials, chemicals, and energy production.

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