Gates Foundation Explores Ways to Boost COVID-19 Detection, Reportedly Including At-Home Tests
A report says the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is preparing to fund at-home testing kits for the novel coronavirus in Seattle.
However, the Gates Foundation cautions that the plans aren't final.
The kits, to be available in the "coming weeks," would quickly identify hot spots where the disease is spreading, according to The Seattle Times. The newspaper quotes Scott Dowell, leader of coronavirus response at the Gates Foundation, as saying it the initiative "has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic."
Dowell cautions in the story, however, that there are many details to work out, and a launch date hasn't been set.
In a statement to GeekWire, the Gates Foundation said, "The Seattle Times article today addressed the potential to adapt the Seattle Flu Study to support local public health agencies in the greater Seattle area in detecting COVID-19. Our team has and will continue to actively explore ways that we can contribute to local response through the application of the study. While we're working quickly with our partners to determine what's possible, details of this support have not yet been finalized."
The Seattle Flu Study is a two-year old research initiative, based at the University of Washington and funded with $20 million from Bill Gates' private office. Partners in the initiative are the Brotman Baty Institute, UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children's.
COVID-19 could be a once-in-a-century pandemic, but the good news is that there are steps we can take now to slow its impact and help us respond more effectively when the next epidemic arrives. #COVID19 https://t.co/7alFsXL27h
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) February 28, 2020
The Gates Foundation has committed $100 million to the global response to COVID-19, and last week announced another $5 million "to help public health agencies in the greater Seattle region enhance their capacity to detect novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in King County, Snohomish County and other surrounding communities."
The Microsoft co-founder has been warning for years about the risk of an unchecked epidemic that could result in upwards of 10 million deaths. He says this could be that once-in-a-century pandemic." As it turns out, the U.S. epicenter is his hometown of Seattle.
The Washington State Department of Health's daily update on Sunday listed 83 confirmed cases and 17 deaths for King County from COVID-19.
According to the Seattle Times report, people using the home kits would swab their noses, send back samples, and get a response in one to two days. They would fill out online forms about where and with whom they've been. Health officials will use that information to get a better sense for where coronavirus is spreading. The program would initially conduct 400 tests a day.
The idea of at-home COVID-19 testing kits was also floated this weekend by researcher and entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg, a pioneer in next-generation DNA sequencing. He acknowledged "all the issues with regulatory approvals I'll face in many countries," and tagged the Gates Foundation as part of his thread on the topic.
Thinking about a low cost easy to manufacture home test kit for #Coronavirus. Outline: #Nasal_swab (Q-tip) w/ freeze dried reagents for isothermal #DNA amplification with #COVID19 primers. Colorimetric readout by #iOS or #Android #App w/ #geolocation & #HIPPA compliant reporting. pic.twitter.com/P4PojWmC8o
— Jonathan Rothberg 🧬🦋 (@JMRothberg) March 7, 2020
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LA Tech Updates: Apple Podcast Vet Joins QCODE, Amazon Reportedly in Talks to Buy Wondery, Pharrell's New Black Ambition Incubator
Apple Podcast Veteran Joins Startup QCODE<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDUzNTQzMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNDUzMzYyNH0.pOGV2lL0qOJQDiWw1T5i4SqsGfaL54hLWED6_5Mf1Ww/img.png?width=980" id="8d68d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f2a47797239f360473fead53338231d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="qcode" />www.sonos.com <p>QCODE, a Los Angeles podcast startup run by a former Creative Artists Agency talent agent, snagged longtime Apple podcast executive Steve Wilson. The 15-year veteran will become QCODE's chief strategy officer.</p> <p>QCODE, which <a href="https://dot.la/sonos-podcast-qcode-2648395035.html" target="_self">last month raised $6.4 million</a> in a Series A round led by Sono, is positioning itself as a funnel for Hollywood. </p> <p>Founded by Rob Herting, a former agent who had represented largely writers and filmmakers, the company has produced eight shows since 2019. Several have been auctioned for film and television, including "Dirty Diana." Amazon picked up the 6-part erotic drama for a TV series.</p>Wilson, who most recently ran marketing for Apple Podcasts, brings insights from the behemoth platform as the industry sees revenues soar. Advertising brought in near $1 billion this year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau's podcast report prepared by PwC.
Amazon Reportedly in Exclusive Talks to Buy Wondery<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5NDU5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjgyMDY3NX0.BHKSXjwra-gGsFEa7lXCCCMJXWV5cYxrZqhddj3-uds/img.jpg?width=980" id="d401d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c9c9eee1f9adc4c1d5edeca1af986a84" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Hernan Lopez" />Hernan Lopez started Wondery with the belief that in-depth, narrative audio stories were poised to bloom.<p>Amazon is in "exclusive talks" to buy podcast company Wondery and subsume its 30 hit shows and over 8 million monthly listeners into its empire, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.</p> <p>The talks reportedly value Wondery above $300 million, in line with previous estimates from analysts, when Apple and Sony were said to have expressed interest.</p> <p>Wondery has produced dozens of original series including "Dr. Death" and "Business Wars," and has 19 shows currently in development to become television series. </p> <p>The company does not publicly disclose its financials, but chief executive Hernan Lopez has previously said the company is profitable. About three-quarters of Wondery's revenue comes from advertising, but Lopez has said the company's revenue share from content licensing is growing (Wondery owns the intellectual property for all of its originals). It also launched a subscription service, Wondery Plus, in June and is currently looking to expand its international footprint. </p> <p>Wondery, the West Hollywood-based company with the largest audience of any independent podcast producer, has been the subject of swirling rumors that several suitors are interested in acquiring it.</p> <p>After a pandemic-induced decline that struck much of the podcasting industry, Wondery's audience has surpassed its pre-COVID levels. Its Q3 revenue was about double year-on-year and its Q4 performance has been strong, Lopez previously told dot.LA. </p> <p>Podcasting overall now attracts over 100 million monthly listeners, according to Edison Research. The Interactive Advertising Bureau projects podcasting revenues to exceed $1 billion by 2021.</p> <p>That growth has spurred somewhat of an arms race, most evident in Spotify's spending spree, which also has helped that company diversify from its reliance on streaming. Amazon Music is one of Spotify's biggest competitors along with Apple Music, and <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-music-joins-podcasting-fray-11600261201?mod=article_inline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently expanded into podcasts as well</a>. </p> <p>Acquiring Wondery would give Amazon more content to slide into Amazon Music, a scaled-down version of which is free for Amazon Prime subscribers. Combining that content with its Alexa smart speaker also could empower the company to capture more eyes and ears in the increasingly competitive attention economy. </p> <p>The talks are reportedly ongoing and no deal has been confirmed. </p>
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