XPrize Puts Up $5 Million to Jumpstart Faster, Cheaper COVID-19 Tests
Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.
A $5 million rapid COVID-19 testing competition launched Tuesday by the Culver-City based XPRIZE Competition seeks to make tests cheaper and faster.
Long wait times for test results have hampered efforts across the country to contain coronavirus. As labs have fallen behind in some parts of the country, wait times have stretched into days and even weeks — and that's meant potentially infectious patients who haven't yet gotten their results aren't self-isolating.
"Fast, affordable, and accessible testing is crucial to containing the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopening schools, businesses and other vital institutions around the world," said CEO of XPRIZE, Anousheh Ansari in announcing the competition. "XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing is inspiring the best entrepreneurial and scientific teams to come together to work towards rapid, affordable COVID-19 testing at scale, and ultimately, getting the world up and running again."
XPRIZE is partnering with OpenCovidScreen to spur production of a low-cost, easy-to-use and fast-result test. The organization hopes it will allow more people to be tested, and bring them closer to safely returning to their jobs and schools.
The competition encourages high school students, university groups, innovators and startups to form teams and work on a solution for the lack of testing capacity. It allows contestants to enter into one of four different categories such as: At Home, Point-of-Care, Distributed Lab, or High-Throughput Lab.
Teams have until August 31st to enter the competition and just 6 months to develop the test with certain requirements. The test must have a maximum turnaround time of 12 hours and cannot cost more than $15.
Blue Shield of California, Cambia Health Solutions, Health Care Service Corporation, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, Horizon Healthcare Services, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, The Anthem Foundation and Anthem Inc. are among the companies backing the effort.
And companies including Google, Amazon, Ilumina, Ancestry, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Exact Science, Centerview Partners, Twist Bioscience, Opentrons, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and Testing For America will help support contestants' need for technology and labs.
Five winners will share $5 million and can go on to benefit from The Covid Apollo Project's $50 million fund that aims to bring new testing methods to the market.
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Minutes into filling out my absentee ballot last week, I was momentarily distracted by my dog Seamus. A moment later, I realized in horror that I was filling in the wrong bubble — accidentally voting "no" on a ballot measure that I meant to vote "yes" on.
It was only a few ink marks, but it was noticeable enough. Trying to fix my mistake, I darkly and fully filled in the correct circle and then, as if testifying to an error on a check, put my initials next to the one I wanted.
Then I worried. As a reporter who has previously covered election security for years, I went on a mini-quest trying to understand how a small mistake can have larger repercussions.
As Los Angeles County's 5.6 million registered voters all receive ballots at home for the first time, I knew my experience could not be unique. But I wondered, would my vote count? Or would my entire ballot now be discarded?
My distractingly sweet dog, Seamus.
Photo by Tami Abdollah
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The farm, which will open in 2021, will grow leafy greens and Driscoll's branded strawberries, showcasing Plenty's indoor hydroponic farming. CEO and co-founder Matt Barnard says it's more efficient than traditional farming, which is weather-sensitive and requires large plots of land.