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The drug industry has been gradually migrating to the cloud for years. But the Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated that shift for a simple reason: Researchers needed to run the biggest experiment of their lives in record time, and they lacked the power to launch it.

In recent months, pharma companies have struck deals with tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, which sell cloud services that could provide the computing power urgently needed to search vast libraries of molecules for a potential cure. Drug companies say transitioning to the cloud has cut down the time needed for certain research efforts from months to mere days — precious time as the global health crisis rages on.

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