The National Institutes of Health has awarded contracts to seven organizations working on digital health solutions for COVID-19 involving smartphones and wearable “biosensors” – so who are these companies?
On September 15, the National Institutes of Health announced that they had awarded contracts to seven companies developing digital health solutions for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the NIH, selected the seven projects put forth by the organizations. The contracts are worth up to $22.8 million and will focus on using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other methods, combined with smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software “that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals.” These organizations include:
iCrypto, Inc. (Santa Clara, California)
Shee Atiká Enterprises, LLC (Sitka, Alaska)
University of California, San Francisco
physIQ, Inc. (Chicago)
Vibrent Health (Fairfax, Virginia)
IBM (Armonk, New York)
Evidation Health, Inc. (San Mateo, California)
The NIH also noted that another company, CareEvolution, LLC (Ann Arbor, Michigan), was awarded a contract by the NIBIB.
NIBIB Director Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., stated that digital health technologies built around smartphones and wearable devices will help guide the public through the COVID-19 pandemic by gathering and analyzing large amounts of data from many different sources.
“When this information is analyzed using cutting-edge computational and machine learning methods, everyone will have access to powerful new tools for reducing the risk of infection and returning to normal activities,” Tromberg said.
The news of the NIH contracts provoked few media reports about the latest development in the fight against COVID-19. However, there was no scrutiny of the companies themselves. This piece is a brief examination of the connections between the companies pushing smartphone apps and wearable technologies, and the individuals and institutions who stand to benefit from the advancement of this biosecurity focused, technocratic reality. A study of these organizations reveals connections to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,