How Three Technologies Will Shape COVID-19 in 2022

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

How Three Technologies Will Shape COVID-19 in 2022
Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

The years-long COVID-19 pandemic did one thing: technologies that were at their infancy pre-pandemic finally had a chance to fully mature, thanks to waves of public and private funding that spurred the pandemic.

One of the most startling shifts came in the use of mRNA vaccines that helped curb the pandemic. The technology was the key to reopening the economy in California, allowing millions of people to go back to work, and, because the vaccine was created using a spike protein found on the virus, booster shots have been able to keep people relatively safe despite the morphing variants.

As the world faces a new threat with the COVID variant, Omicron, public health experts are looking to the science that helped create the first vaccine – the mRNA vaccine along with genomic sequencing – as they anticipate the virus’ path.

While scientists are still trying to understand the variant, which appears to be less dangerous to individuals than the Delta variant, one thing is agreed upon: having a booster helps protect people from COVID. Testing helps from spread. And genomic sequencing enables scientists to quickly identify new threats.

Why are these three developments so important to the future?

mRNA Vaccines and Boosters

The quick work done to develop the booster using mRNA, a vaccine that uses a molecule to create an immune response in the body, was tested during the pandemic and is likely to continue to be a go-to tool for scientists for future vaccines.

“What pandemic is doing is really pushing the application and maturation of these technologies that were already being developed,” said Dr. Shaun Yang, an assistant medical director at the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at UCLA.

The wealth of data accumulated from millions of people around the world may also help us develop cancer therapeutics or an HIV vaccine sooner than previously thought.

At-Home and At-School Testing

Diagnosing COVID-19 will be key in sustaining a reopened economy post-pandemic.

Rapid tests will be key to bolstering safety efforts in the U.S. as people continue to travel during the holidays, spend time at concerts and movie theaters, and return to in-person schooling.

Since cities have loosened pandemic restrictions, the Biden Administration began banking on rapid COVID-19 tests. The federal government invested a billion dollars into at-home rapid tests, increasing inventory in the U.S. so more people can buy them.

But, according to Dr. Eleazar Eskin, the UCLA chair of the Department of Computational Medicine, accessible testing will also make it easier to stop the virus from spreading in schools. His lab at UCLA developed SwabSeq, a $10 test that can test for multiple respiratory illnesses, not just the coronavirus. Instead of sending students home for a few days while teachers and classmates get tested for the coronavirus, schools can quickly figure out what ailment students have.

Eskin said, pre-pandemic, “what was missing was really a large-scale testing capacity for the virus. So we want to basically put in the system that would both detect new viruses and be able to get results within a couple of weeks.”

Genomic Sequencing and Surveillance

Sophisticated genomic sequencing technology is what allowed scientists across the world to create a vaccine without ever seeing or handling the virus. Chinese scientists sequenced the entire virus, basically writing out the genetic material and construction of COVID-19, and published it online.

Genomic surveillance is also what allowed scientists in South Africa to discover the Omicrom variant so quickly. The faster public health officials can find a variant, the better it can track its mutations, how fast it spreads, and how deadly the virus is. This can inform necessary public health decisions like reinstating social distancing rules.

It will also be key to stopping the next pandemic.

“New pathogens always emerge and never stop...surveillance needs to stay there constantly and that requires funding and legislative support. Knowing that if something happens in the world, you can immediately get information and study it.,” Yang said. “And that really tells you how unsuccessful we were for this pandemic. Because if we had a very good surveillance system, we would have had the opportunity to really put that virus under control.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


New E-Scooter Company TukTuk Hits LA Streets

Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Yahya Dabbagh
Image by Maylin Tu

Yahya Dabbagh isn’t your typical micromobility startup CEO.

For one, he takes a personal approach to customer service. When he feels a rider is trying to game the system by reporting a scooter broken, in order to earn a free unlock (valued at $1), Dabbagh sometimes will call them up.

Read moreShow less

Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day
Andria Moore

On Wednesday, Techstars’ fall 2022 class gathered in Downtown Los Angeles to pitch their products to potential investors in hopes of securing their next big funding round. dot.LA co-sponsored the demo day presentation alongside Venice-based space news website Payload.

Read moreShow less

Derek Jeter’s Sports Trading Card Company Brings in $10M

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13,, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.