Alphabet’s Verily says it will launch a limited coronavirus testing website Monday

Alphabet’s Verily says it will launch a limited coronavirus testing website Monday


Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O keynote session at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on May 7, 2019.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Alphabet is collaborating with the California governor’s office and other local, state and federal officials to launch a pilot of a COVID-19 testing website in the San Francisco Bay Area Monday.

Created by Google and Alphabet’s life sciences company Verily, the website will let Californians take an online COVID-19 “screener survey,” which will direct patients to testing sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

“In collaboration with the California Governor’s office, federal, state and local public health authorities, Verily is helping to establish testing sites in the Bay Area and an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people at high risk of COVID-19,” the company said in a blog post Sunday. “The tool will triage people who are concerned about their COVID-19 risk into testing sites based on guidance from public health officials and test availability.”

People who meet eligibility requirements for testing will be directed to “mobile” testing sites “based on capacity,” where they will complete a nasal swab test, the company said. It did not say what it considers eligible qualities and didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification.

Once tested, individuals will be informed of their test results “within a few days.”

The pilot program will begin in the Bay Area because it has the highest volume of known cases, the company said in the blog post. “As more testing kits and sites become available, we plan to scale the capacity.” The company told CNBC on Friday that while it hopes to scale nationwide, it has no particular timeline.

The website launch announcement comes after CNBC first reported the website and an internal memo from CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday after President Donald Trump announced the efforts. When asked for additional details after Trump’s press conference, Google deferred to its sister company and Alphabet’s life sciences arm Verily, causing confusion about the scale of the website. Furthering the confusion on Saturday, it switched positions,

that the company was indeed creating a website alongside Verily and that it was “fully-aligned” with the Trump administration.

State officials hope the website launch will be “bringing to market the capacity for individuals that have developed mild symptoms or are concerned, being seniors or at higher risk, to go in this portal and answer specific questions,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, describing the company’s website in a press conference Sunday.

California has conducted 8,316 tests at 19 labs with the capacity to test another 9,000 people, Newsom said.

The company’s website will use an internal project called “Project Baseline,” which is described as an initiative that maps health data points used in clinical research to “build the next generation of healthcare tools and services.”

The World Health Organization last week declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic and President Trump declared a national emergency Friday. The outbreak has caused more than 5,000 deaths and 135,000 confirmed cases globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, not everyone with symptoms have access to the limited testing kits.

U.S. cases have surged over the last two weeks from about 100 confirmed infections on March 1 to almost 3,300 on Sunday, according to data compiled by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins University.

“The program is in its early stages, and we will take the time to assess operations at pilot sites in the Bay Area before rolling out to additional sites,” Verily’s blog post continued. “We are working closely with Governor Newsom’s office, federal authorities and local public health authorities to ensure we have the right capabilities in place to help more people over the coming weeks.”


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