Gates Foundation rushing development of tech-driven at-home coronavirus tests

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding a project that will soon provide patients who have symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, with home-testing kits that will provide results within two days, The Seattle Times reports.

The kits are expected to be ready for distribution in the coming weeks; researchers still need to upgrade the program's software to prepare for what will likely be a massive influx of tests, and they are still finalizing a detailed online questionnaire to triage those who request tests.

"Although there's a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic," Scott Dowell, the Gates Foundation's leader of coronavirus response, told The Seattle Times.

If the questionnaire determines a patient to be at risk of having contracted COVID-19, a nose-swabbing test will be delivered to their home within two hours.

The program aims to be able to process thousands of tests per day and return results — tested by labs at the Seattle-based University of Washington — within one to two days. Positive results will be immediately shared with local health officials, who can then use infected patients' answers to the survey about their movements and contacts to track and prevent the spread of the virus.

Read more here.

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