KEY POINTS

  • The Gates Foundation has created home testing kits for COVID-19
  • Suspected patients can send their nasal swabs to a lab using the kit
  • The results will be available in 1-2 days

Coronavirus testing is set to get much easier and convenient. A project backed by the Gates Foundation is preparing to deliver home testing kits that will help you determine whether you are infected by the novel coronavirus.

People who suspect that they have come in contact with the virus can swab their noses and send the samples back to a lab for study. Nasal swabs will contain dried reagents for isothermal DNA amplification and will have COVID-19 primers for easy detection of the virus.

The lab will send the results of the test within 2 days. If a person tests positive, they can fill out an online questionnaire about their travel and people they have been in contact with, so that the authorities can notify other people who may have contracted the virus and prevent it from spreading further.

The Gates Foundation told the Seattle Times Sunday that the kits will be available “in the coming weeks.”

According to Scott Dowell, Deputy Director, Global Health, Gates Foundation, the lab will have an initial testing capacity for 400 samples a day but will be ramping up facilities to a level where it can test thousands of samples in a day.

“One of the most important things from our perspective, having watched and worked on this in other parts of the world, is the identification of people who are positive for the virus, so they can be safely isolated and cared for, and the identification of their contacts, who can then be quarantined,” Dowell told the publication.

The lab needs not just testing equipment but also software to handle the expected rush of requests and the finalized questionnaire before it can actually be operational.

The Gates Foundation has put $20 million into the effort and further committed $5 million for local responses to combat the disease.

Schools across Asia have shut down over the outbreak of the new coronavirus, leaving parents to juggle work and childcare Schools across Asia have shut down over the outbreak of the new coronavirus, leaving parents to juggle work and childcare Photo: JIJI PRESS / STR