Cases of COVID-19 infections continue to rise daily and often in dozens because of the communicative and stealthy nature of the disease. While cures and vaccines are still beyond our reach, the best that we can do is to prevent the spread of the virus by properly identifying and caring for infected people. Unfortunately, human resources and equipment are running thin which is why a new project aims to make it possible to do tests at home, thanks to some help from the Gates Foundation and Bill Gates himself.
They say that prevention is better than cure and that may exactly be the case with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Many infections and even deaths may have been avoided with proper treatment and quarantines which, in turn, required identifying infections quickly. Government and private health care workers, however, are nearly at their limits because of the situation and conventional methods of testing may be counterproductive or downright risky.
A new process for testing funded by Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has taken root in Seattle, the city with the most number of cases and deaths in the US so far. The process involves answering questionnaires and then receiving a home-testing kit within two hours. The kit, which consists of a nose swab, could then be collected and the result may be known in just two days. Confirmed cases will then be shared with local health officials so that they can be treated properly and quarantined.
Such a testing process removes the need for people to visit a doctor or clinic and risk infecting others or getting infected themselves. Such a house-to-house effort, however, is well beyond the capabilities of already burdened health workers, which is why projects like these are critical in stepping up the pace and increasing manpower.
The project has grown out of the Seattle Flu Study, which is now shifting its efforts from influenza to the COVID-19 virus that shares many of the same symptoms. The Study has already uncovered a number of details around the mysterious virus during its early days and theorized that it may have been circulating in Washington state earlier than initially suspected.