Google's Verily in early stages of developing a coronavirus tool?
Verily is in the early stages of development, and (is) planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, according to a statement by Google's communications department.
Google said a life sciences division, Verily, is in the early stages of developing a tool to help triage Americans who may need testing for the coronavirus. The outbreak in the US has killed 50 people and infected over 2,000 people.
“Verily is in the early stages of development, and (is) planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time,” Google’s communications department announced in a statement on Twitter.
Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc closed up more than 9% after US President Donald Trump said on Friday that the search giant would create a website to help determine whether individuals need a coronavirus test or not. Trump said that 1,700 company engineers were working on the site, Reuters reported.
Like Google, Verily is a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is based in Mountain View, California.
Pressure has been rising on US officials to increase and improve testing for the fast-spreading virus, which has reached almost every US state.
"I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website, it's gonna be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location," Trump said. "Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now, made tremendous progress."
An administration presentation showed a potential user would be asked several questions on the website and then given a recommendation as to whether they should get a coronavirus test.
Those requiring a test would be referred to a store that can provide assistance, potentially including a drive-through test, according to the administration's presentation. Results would be available online in 24 to 36 hours.
US Vice President Mike Pence said the website's launch date would be known by Sunday night. "We are in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the (San Francisco) Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time," said Verily spokeswoman Kathleen Parkes.
About 1,700 Google workers have volunteered to help with coronavirus-related efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter, but it is unclear whether all of them are involved with developing the new website.
Carolyn Wang, another Verily spokeswoman, said it initially aimed to assess testing needs for people more prone to catching the virus, such as healthcare workers. But she said Verily now plans to trial the system more broadly at several sites around the San Francisco region.
Wang added that Verily was "collaborating closely with organizations like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp who are also working on additional approaches to making testing more accessible and expedient in other areas."