A project funded by billionaire Bill Gates is set to issue at-home testing kits for people who fear they have been infected with the coronavirus.
Just days after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a second round of investment to help detect and treat the new coronavirus, The Seattle Times reports that a project backed by the couple will be delivered to people in the Seattle area in the coming weeks.
Participants in the study will self administer a nose-swab and send the sample to health officials for testing. Medical experts will then notify those who test positive for the respiratory illness that has killed at least 3,000 people globally and sickened thousands, the report said.
There is no vaccine to prevent or cure coronavirus, according to the CDC.
People who test positive also will have access to an online form to answer questions about where they’ve been and who they’ve had contact with. The data collected will help officials track down those who may need to be tested or quarantined, according to the 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 program, told The Seattle Times.
So far, no launch date has been determined. “While we’re working quickly with our partners to determine what’s possible, details of this support have not yet been finalized,” the foundation told USA TODAY in a statement.
Last week, the foundation said it would commit $5 million to help public health agencies in the greater Seattle area respond to the coronavirus. In February, the foundation committed up to $100 million in global coronavirus response.
Washington state has confirmed 136 cases and 15 deaths from the disease. The first case of the outbreak in the United States was found in a man living just north of Seattle.
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