Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is funding a disease surveillance program in Seattle to detect COVID-19 cases and better understand the spread of the outbreak.
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) enables Seattle residents to use a self-swab test to collect their own nasal samples and send them to a lab without leaving home, according to a blog post Gates posted Tuesday.
Gates made it clear that SCAN isn’t meant to replace widespread testing needed in communities, but can become an important tool for health officials to learn about how the virus behaves.
“As a surveillance program, SCAN’s goal isn’t to test every person or serve as a replacement for medical care. Instead, SCAN is testing a sample of people in the Seattle region, including those who are healthy as well as those who are feeling sick,” Gates wrote in the post.
The data collected from the test results will be used by researchers, data modelers and public health officials to piece together a sharper picture of how the coronavirus is moving through the community and who is at greatest risk. It can also be used to determine how well physical distancing measures are working.
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