Home Testing Kits for COVID-19 to be Available in Seattle

Monday, March 9, 2020 - 12:02

Bill Gates and his foundation begins offering home-testing kits for people in the Seattle area.

The initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would allow people in the Seattle area to swab their noses and send back the samples for analysis, the Seattle Times reported.

Four-hundred tests would initially be conducted at a University of Washington lab on a daily basis, with the results being returned in one or two days, the report said. Eventually, the testing capacity will be ramped up to thousands of tests each day.

Individuals who have been infected will then be encouraged to answer an online questionnaire to give health officials information about their movements so that those officials can identify and notify other people who may need to be tested or quarantined, according to the Seattle Times report.

“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 told the Seattle Times.

There’s no clear timeline for the project’s launch as the Foundation looks to finalize the supporting software and draft a final questionnaire for people who request the tests. The Foundation estimates that it could run up to 400 tests per-day, according to Dowell.

All told, the Gates Foundation has poured about $20 million into the effort. The foundation has also committed $5 million to the local response efforts to combat the disease in the area — including the expansion of testing and analysis.

The Gates Foundation has also committed $100 million to the global coronavirus response, with an emphasis on vaccine and drug development and improved testing, treatment and control in vulnerable parts of Africa and South Asia.

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