According to the Seattle Times, a project funded by the Gates Foundation will soon begin issuing at-home testing kits for COVID-19. They are working on a nose swab that should be able to give back results in two days. The test will be shared with health officials who then will notify people who test positive for the virus. Once individuals who have the virus have been notified, they will be instructed to answer an online questionnaire to provide health officials with information about their travel history.
“Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic,” Scott Dowell, who leads the coronavirus response effort from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said.
As the foundation finalizes supporting software and works on the questionnaire, there is yet a clear timeline for the project’s launch.
“One of the most important things from our perspective, having watched and worked on this in other parts of the world, is the identification of people who are positive for the virus, so they can be safely isolated and cared for, and the identification of their contacts, who can then be quarantined,” Dowell added.
The initiative grew out of the Seattle Flu Study, which is a two-year research project to track the spread of infectious diseases like the flu. This study has shifted to focusing on COVID-19 using similar responses. The Gates Foundation has put about $20 million into the testing effort as well as committed $5 million to local response efforts to fight the disease in the Seattle area.
Thinking about a low cost easy to manufacture home test kit for #Coronavirus. Outline: #Nasal_swab (Q-tip) w/ freeze dried reagents for isothermal #DNA amplification with #COVID19 primers. Colorimetric readout by #iOS or #Android #App w/ #geolocation & #HIPPA compliant reporting. pic.twitter.com/P4PojWmC8o
— Jonathan Rothberg 🧬🦋 (@JMRothberg) March 7, 2020
Healthcare entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg also outlined a similar approach to develop at-home test kits and is potentially in discussions with a manufacturer on how to make it a reality. Hopefully, with all these organizations hard at work, we can figure out an effective way to test for and treat those with this virus.