indica News Bureau-
Helping people determine whether to see a doctor for coronavirus or not, to reduce panic among people, , Alphabet Inc.’s life science research offshoot- Verily, launched a screening website to help users determine if they need to get a test for COVID-19, as part of a 3-year-old effort by Verily called Project Baseline, which was an effort to “map human health”.
The screening website, launched on Sunday, helps users determine if they need to get a test for COVID-19 and to provide information about where they can go to get tested for the coronavirus, guiding them through the process, reducing the rush in hospitals.
Currently, the screening platform is only available to people in the San Francisco Bay Area who have a Google account.
“In collaboration with the California Governor’s office, federal, state and local public health authorities, Verily is helping to establish testing sites in the Bay Area and an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people at high risk of COVID-19. The tool will triage people who are concerned about their COVID-19 risk into testing sites based on guidance from public health officials and test availability,” Verily said in a blog post-Sunday.
The company said that its screener survey would be available from Monday.
“To protect the most vulnerable, the COVID-19 testing pilot program will begin by testing the highest risk individuals at select sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there is a significant volume of known cases. As more testing kits and sites become available, we plan to scale the capacity,” the company said.
Verily’s announcement followed confusion caused Friday when President Donald Trump said during a press conference that Google was working to develop a website that would expand testing for the coronavirus that has caused a global crisis, reported biz journal.
“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now,” Trump said then, which led to some initial denials and mixed signals from Mountain View-based Google, the largest part of the holding company Alphabet Inc.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of both Google and Verily, said in his own blog post on Sunday that “we’re partnering with the U.S. government” on the COVID-19 screening effort. Pichai also laid out a number of other efforts Google and other subsidiaries as YouTube, Google Maps and the developer platform Play were taking to assist. One of those efforts: to remove “dangerous or misleading” information about the virus.
“In this unprecedented moment, we feel a great responsibility to help. We’ll keep doing everything we can to deliver on our mission, and help people take care of themselves and their communities,” Pichai wrote.
Verily described the process as:
People who meet eligibility and requirements for testing will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity, where they will complete a nasal swab test. Once tested, individuals will be informed of their COVID-19 test results within a few days.
To protect the most vulnerable, the COVID-19 testing pilot program will begin by testing the highest risk individuals at select sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there is a significant volume of known cases. As more testing kits and sites become available, we plan to scale the capacity.
Ultimately, our goal is to help local authorities expand testing access in California as the need continues to increase. The program is in its early stages, and we will take the time to assess operations at pilot sites in the Bay Area before rolling out to additional sites. We are working closely with Governor Newsom’s office, federal authorities and local public health authorities to ensure we have the right capabilities in place to help more people over the coming weeks.
Taking part in the screening process requires users to have a Google account, and to allow the company to gather data points about each person. Verily says it is collecting personal information that can be used by government and health officials for “public health purposes.”
In its blog post, Verily sought to ease any qualms people may have had about consenting to have their information recorded. “We are committed to maintaining high privacy standards and keeping your data safe,” the blog post said. “Project Baseline follows federal and state regulations governing the collection and use of an individual’s data. Data in Verily’s possession is stored in advanced systems with security and privacy protocols.”