Skip to main content

Bill Gates is funding an at-home coronavirus testing program

To find out how the coronavirus spreads through communities, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said he is funding an at-home self-swab test for those who live in Seattle. 

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) is a “disease surveillance program” whose goal is to provide a clearer picture of how the coronavirus spreads through a community by testing healthy people as well as those who are sick, Gates announced in a blog post on Tuesday, May 12.

“As SCAN gathers more test results in the weeks ahead, researchers expect the new data to provide a better sense of the number of infections and serve as one source to help answer other questions, like when physical distancing measures can be relaxed,” Gates wrote on his blog.

SCAN will test a sample of a diverse group of people and use the results, as well as other demographic data — including age, gender, race, and ZIP code — to learn more about who is at a higher risk for coronavirus and to see if social distancing is actually working. 


People in Seattle interested in participating can enroll in the voluntary program starting Wednesday, May 13. Those chosen for the program will receive an at-home nasal-swab test kit and can review their results on SCAN’s web portal.

Gates is funding the program privately, as well we through his investment firm and his foundation. 

Gates has repeatedly stressed the importance of testing as one of the critical factors needed to end coronavirus quarantines since the beginning of the outbreak. 

Gates said in the past that getting the United States organized on testing will allow us to overcome the rapid spread of the virus until a vaccine can be made.

There are already a few other at-home coronavirus test kits available on the market, including one that has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and costs $119. 

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Here’s what Bill Gates says should be on your summer reading list
Bill Gates

Now we know what books are on Bill Gates' nightstand, thanks to his summer reading list for 2020.

Gates posted his top five books, along with a few extras (about meditation, memory, and Mars), on his site GatesNotes. He also added some movies and TV shows he’s been enjoying, as well as the tidbit that he plays online bridge with tycoon Warren Buffett.

Read more
The FDA has shut down a Bill Gates-backed coronavirus testing program
Bill Gates

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted, at least temporarily, a Seattle-based at-home coronavirus testing program backed by Bill Gates.

“Please discontinue patient testing and return of diagnostic results to patients until proper authorization is obtained,” the FDA told the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) in a memo, according to The New York Times.

Read more
Bill Gates: ‘I wish I had done more’ to warn about coronavirus
Bill Gates

Bill Gates has been warning government leaders about a global pandemic for years, but the coronavirus still caught nations off guard -- and the philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder said that’s one of his biggest regrets.

“I wish I had done more to call attention to the danger,” Gates told the Wall Street Journal. “I feel terrible. The whole point of talking about it was that we could take action and minimize the damage.”

Read more