Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is funding an at-home coronavirus testing program that aims to uncover how the virus moves through communities. The billionaire philanthropist is working with the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, or SCAN, to send self-swab tests to Seattle homes. The program will collect nasal samples, even from people not showing symptoms.
"As a surveillance program, SCAN's goal isn't to test every person or serve as a replacement for medical care," Gates said in a blog post Tuesday. Instead, he said the program "has the potential to become an important tool for health officials seeking insights about the spread and behavior of the virus."
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The at-home test results will be paired with information about age, gender, race, ZIP code and pre-existing health conditions, said Gates. The data will then be used by researchers to track the spread of COVID-19 and help pinpoint at-risk communities.
The program is already testing 300 people per day, according to Gates, and will be accept applications to have the test sent to them starting Wednesday on the SCAN website.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $300 million toward the global efforts to fight COVID-19. In April, Gates said the "foundation's total attention" is on the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, there are nearly 4.3 million confirmed cases and 293,000 deaths globally , including more than 1.3 million cases and 82,000 deaths in the US.