Gates Foundation Promises Home-Testing Kits for Coronavirus

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    An anonymous reader quotes the Seattle Times: Testing for the novel coronavirus in the Seattle area will get a huge boost in the coming weeks as a project funded by Bill Gates and his foundation begins offering home-testing kits that will allow people who fear they may be infected to swab their noses and send the samples back for analysis. Results, which should be available in one to two days, will be shared with local health officials who will notify those who test positive. Via online forms, infected people can answer questions about their movements and contacts, making it easier for health officials to locate others who may need to be tested or quarantined, as well as to track the virus’ spread and identify possible hot spots. Initially, the lab will be able to conduct about 400 tests a day, eventually expanding to thousands of tests a day, said Scott Dowell, leader of coronavirus response at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is ramping up as quickly as possible, but it’s not clear exactly when it will launch, he added. Among other things, software needs to be upgraded to handle the expected crush of requests, and a detailed questionnaire finalized for people who request tests. “Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic,” Dowell said. The article points out that the kits “will reduce the need for sick people to visit a doctor’s office or clinic, lowering the chance of exposing others.” The foundation has already committed up to $100 million to the global response to COVID-19, including up to $20 million to accelerate international efforts to control the spread, up to $20 million to help partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia strengthen their response, and up to $60 million to kick-start the development of vaccines and treatments. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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