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This article was published on March 19, 2020

Bill Gates: Coronavirus testing in the US is unorganized

Bill Gates: Coronavirus testing in the US is unorganized
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

Last night, Microsoft’s co-founder and the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, held an AMA on Reddit to chat about COVID-19 pandemic. During the session, he stressed upon the need for a ‘shut down’ and the lack of extensive testing in the US.

Gates said the CDC needs to have a central portal that lets people post their symptoms and get tested within 24 hours if needed:

We need to democratize and scale the testing system by having a CDC website that people go to and enter their situation. Priority situations should get tested within 24 hours. This is very possible since many countries have done it. Health care workers for example should have priority. Elderly people should have priority. We will be able to catch up on the testing demand within a few weeks of getting the system in place. Without the system we don’t know what is missing – swabs, reagents etc..

He added that testing in the country is not quite organized yet, and hopefully, the White House will address that situation soon.

[Read: The US wants to track your phone’s location data to help limit the spread of coronavirus]

The Microsoft co-founder also insisted that ‘shut downs’ are quite important, and other countries have seen success by implementing it effectively. Opining about developing models that can help with the process of slowing down the spread of this disease, he said the experience and method of tackling the outbreak in China is the “most critical data we have.”

 

As positive coronavirus cases in the US have crossed the 9,000 mark, more and more people are expressing concern over the government’s response to the situation. Earlier this week, Verily, an Alphabet subsidiary, opened up a portal for free coronavirus testing. However, it’s currently limited to a couple of counties in California.

The White House has also sought help from AI experts, by asking them to study over 29,000 papers on coronavirus to get answers to some key questions. The government is also in talks with tech companies to possibly use location data from your phones to control the outbreak.

Earlier this month, the Gates Foundation pledged $125 million to identify potential treatments for COVID-19. It has also partnered with Amazon to deliver coronavirus testing kits to homes in Seattle.

Gates, joined by medical experts Dr. Trevor Mundel and Dr. Niranjan Bose,also talked about developing possible vaccines, and how the pandemic can impact the economy. You can check out the AMA here.

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