Bill Gates' charity funding at-home coronavirus test kit for Seattle

Bill Gates’ foundation is funding at-home coronavirus test kit that gives results in less than two days for hard-hit Seattle area where at least 18 have died

  • New test will let people swab noses and send samples to lab for analysis 
  • They would then get results back between one and two days 
  • Positive cases would then report to health officials about people they contacted 
  • Authorities would then be able to track virus and quarantine suspected cases
  • At least 18 people in Washington State have died from coronavirus infection
  • Federal government is being blamed for slow roll-out of coronavirus testing kits 

Bill Gates and his charity are funding a new home-testing kit for coronavirus that is expected to be ready for distribution in the greater Seattle area in the coming weeks.

The test will allow people experiencing symptoms of coronavirus to swab their noses and then send the samples to a lab for an analysis.

The results would then be available within one to two days. Those who test positive would have those results shared with local health officials, according to The Seattle Times.

Whoever is infected would then be asked to share information online about where they traveled to and with whom they were in contact.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is funding the production and distribution of at-home testing kits for coronavirus which is expected to be available to Seattle-area residents in the coming weeks

The kits will allow those who fear they have contracted coronavirus to swab their noses and then send the sample to a lab, where the results would be ready within one to two days. The above image from February shows the novel coronavirus under an electron microscope

The Seattle area and Washington State have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus in the United States. Many deaths occurred as a result of a coronavirus outbreak that happened at the EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland, Washington (seen above on Sunday)

This would make it easier for health officials to notify others who may need to be either tested for coronavirus or quarantined as a precautionary measure.

The system would also allow the authorities to better track the spread of the virus and identify potential ‘hot spots.’


The new virus, called COVID-19, is transmitted from person to person via droplets when an infected person breathes out, coughs or sneezes. 

It can also spread via contaminated surfaces such as door handles or railings. 

Coronavirus infections have a wide range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  

Mild cases can cause cold-like symptoms including a sore throat, headache, fever, cough or trouble breathing.  

Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure and death.  

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

Scott Dowell, the head of the coronavirus response team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the Times that the lab conducting the tests will initially be able to analyze 400 samples per day.

With time, the lab will be able to test thousands of kits a day, he said.

The foundation started by the co-founder of Microsoft, one of the world’s richest people, is dedicated to eradicating illness in developing countries. 

Dowell told the Times that the foundation is working as quickly as possible in order to ramp up production of the kits, though the exact launch date has yet to be determined.

The experts working on the project are looking to boost the software so that it can handle what is expected to be considerable demand during and after its roll-out.

‘Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic,’ Dowell said.

Washington State has been the hardest hit by coronavirus, which has infected at least 80 residents.

At least 18 Washingtonians, most of them linked to a Seattle-area nursing home, have died, which is also a high for the country.

Gates’ foundation as well as state and local health agencies are trying to fill the void left by the federal government, which is coming under severe criticism for its failure to provide testing to citizens in a timely fashion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested 1583 people for the coronavirus since the first cases were identified in the US in January. Pictured is the laboratory test kit created by the CDC

The number of Americans tested will increase as more test kits are sent throughout the country to address demand, said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to the coronavirus outbreak was blasted by critics as it was revealed the agency has only tested 1,583 people for the deadly, flu-like virus since the first cases were identified in the US in January.

The figure will increase as more tests are sent through the country to address demand, said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, while speaking to reporters at the White House this weekend.

Meanwhile, the federal government has shipped enough kits to public health labs to test another 75,000 patients.

The CDC and public health labs had run 5,861 tests for the coronavirus as of Friday, Hahn of the FDA said, though officials could not say how many total patients have been tested.

Adding to confusion which has plagued the government’s campaign to contain the outbreak were comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health.

Fauci admitted on Meet the Press on Sunday that early attempts to send out coronavirus test kits were plagued by delays, but said that testing capacity is ‘accelerating dramatically’.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was among those blasting the agency this weekend about the CDC’s slow response to the outbreak. ‘CDC, wake up,’ the governor said to the agency, calling on it to allow states and private labs to also do testing

His figures for how many tests have been sent out were far higher than the CDC’s earlier report.

‘I believe, 1.1 million tests have already been sent out. By Monday, there’ll be an additional 400,000. And by the end of next week, probably around four million.’

A spokesperson for the CDC did not immediately respond when reached out for clarification.

Meanwhile, the agency’s delayed response to the outbreak drew fire from critics.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that local officials are working hard to identify new cases but have been greatly hindered by the CDC.

He called it ‘outrageous and ludicrous’ that the agency has not authorized private labs to conduct automated tests.

‘CDC, wake up. Let the states test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our testing capacity so we identify the positive people, so we can isolate them,’ he said.

After facing similar criticism over the pace of testing in the U.S., the FDA made it easier for commercial labs to manufacture and perform their own tests.

More than 2.1 million of those tests are expected to be shipped by Monday to commercial labs, Hahn said.

That, however, would translate to roughly 850,000 people who can seek testing because under current CDC guidelines, two swabs are required per patient.

Carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the Grand Princess maintains a holding pattern about 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco on Sunday. It is expected to dock in Oakland on Monday, California authorities announced

Gates has been quoted as saying that one of his biggest fears is that world governments are ill-prepared to deal with future pandemics.

Last month, he warned that the coronavirus is beginning to behave like a ‘once-in-a-century’ pathogen with the potential to kill more people than the 66,000 Americans who died in the 1957 influenza pandemic.

‘The data so far suggest that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1 per cent,’ Gates wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

‘This rate would make it many times more severe than typical seasonal influenza, putting it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6 per cent) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2 per cent).’

The Asian flu of 1957 killed 2 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already pledged $100million to fight the outbreak.

Gates also called for accelerated testing of vaccines. He noted that several promising candidates are already being prepared for clinical trials.

‘If some of these vaccines prove safe and effective in animal models, they could be ready for larger-scale trials as early as June,’ he wrote.

‘Drug discovery can also be accelerated by drawing on libraries of compounds that have already been tested for safety and by applying new screening techniques, including machine learning, to identify antivirals that could be ready for large-scale clinical trials within weeks.’

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC’s Meet the Press (pictured) that after initial missteps distributing tests, there should be 400,000 more tests available by Monday and four million by the end of the week

Passengers wear face masks to protect against coronavirus after arriving at the LAX airport in Los Angeles. Fauci warned elderly people and anyone with a compromised immune system to avoid travel when possible 

A woman is seen stocking up on toilet paper at a store in Mountain View, California

An anxious man wears a medical mask on a New York City train on Saturday, as coronavirus cases rapidly rise in the area 

Locals and tourists were taking no precautions as they made their way through bustling Times Square

Meanwhile, the number of infections in the United States climbed above 500 and the national death toll reached at least 21 as testing for the virus increased.

Fauci said Sunday that widespread closure of a city or region, as Italy has done, is ‘possible.’

‘You don’t want to alarm people, but given the spread we see, you know anything is possible and that’s the reason why we’ve got to be prepared to take whatever action is appropriate to contain and mitigate the outbreak,’ Fauci said on Fox News Sunday.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said communities will need to start thinking about canceling large gatherings, closing schools and letting more employees work from home, as many companies have done in the Seattle area amid an outbreak at a care home that has killed 18.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Sunday after the number of confirmed cases there doubled from the previous day to 14.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the mayor of Oakland sought Sunday to reassure the public that none of the passengers from a ship carrying people with the virus will be released into the public before undergoing a 14-day quarantine.

The Grand Princess carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries is expected to dock Monday in Oakland, in the east San Francisco Bay, and was idling off the coast Sunday as officials prepared a port site.

Those needing acute medical care will come off first. 

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