Scientific questions and crippling logistical challenges surrounding the global response to the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic have led many to help look for solutions, stoking a burgeoning DIY biology movement.
Spurred by the insecurity, students, scientists, developers and health professionals have taken to online biology forums in recent weeks to help investigate potential vaccines and innovative methods of testing.
Many of these online communities have been around for years, but the fast spread of coronavirus has further ignited them, said Josh Perfetto, founder of a Santa Clara, California, biological testing startup and member of DIYbio, an online forum for DIY scientists.
“Biohacking used to be a fringe space, but I think this is becoming a kind of breakout moment for things like DIY biology and community labs and hacker spaces,” he said. “Even if we contain coronavirus, this is starting to become a big need. This won’t be the last pandemic.”
The DIY efforts come as more than 190,000 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, numerous countries have issued new regulations in an effort to curb its spread, and more and more cities in the US go on lockdown. Meanwhile, US officials are scrambling to make more test kits available to its population after weeks of undertesting, and a vaccine remains many months away.