Covid-19: Alphabet’s Verily tested about 20 people on first day of programme


  • Google
  • Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020

Medical personnel surrounding a car that is going through a coronavirus drive-thru test clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center on March 16, 2020 in San Mateo, California. Verily’s website asks potential patients questions to determine if they need testing, then directs them to one of two Verily testing sites where a sample is taken. Labs run the samples and Verily sends the results to patients. — AFP

Alphabet Inc health-care unit Verily ran tests for about 20 people on its first day of screening for the coronavirus.

The company aims to double that number on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the situation. A spokesperson for Verily declined to comment on the test numbers. The firm has said it is working with the state of California to expand the program.

Verily is part of a countrywide effort to expand testing so US public health officials can get a better sense of how far Covid-19 has spread. Verily’s website asks potential patients questions to determine if they need testing, then directs them to one of two Verily testing sites where a sample is taken. Labs run the samples and Verily sends the results to patients.

On March13, US President Donald Trump said Google was working on a national website to help coordinate virus testing. Soon after, Verily confirmed its testing project – which begins with users taking an eligibility questionnaire on the Web – but said it would start small with just two counties in northern California.

Verily’s Project Baseline website is not currently accepting new applications for testing appointments, even for people deemed eligible. Verily has tweeted that it’s conducting a pilot programme with a staged rollout and "appointments will continue to become available.” Anyone with severe Covid-19 symptoms needing medical attention is deemed ineligible.

Separately, Google is building another website to serve as a hub for coronavirus information, focusing first on the US and then expanding overseas. Microsoft Corp has also joined the effort to provide up-to-date information on the spread of the pandemic with a new Covid-19 tracker tool. – Bloomberg

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