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.
“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.
U.S. 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. The president said that 1,700 company engineers were working on the site.
That site will actually be built by Verily. The tool will start in the San Francisco Bay area first with “the hope of expanding more broadly over time.” The company added that the site would work with several locations in the Bay Area while it is being tested and that Verily is working with testing companies Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp on the project.
Update: “We are fully aligned and continue to work with the U.S. government to contain the spread of COVID-19, inform citizens, and protect the health of our communities,” Google said in a Saturday statement on Twitter.
Update Sunday March 15: Sundar Pichai said that Google is partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide. This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, teachers and businesses. Google will roll out an initial version of the website late Monday, March 16, and we’ll continue to enhance and update it with more resources on an ongoing basis.
Pichai also said that Alphabet’s Verily, which is focused on health and life sciences, is working in collaboration with California state, local and federal health authorities to help establish testing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, and on an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people at high risk of COVID-19. Californians will be able to take an online COVID-19 screener survey through Verily’s Project Baseline, and those who meet eligibility and requirements for testing will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity. While Verily is in the early stages of this pilot program, the plan is to expand to other locations over time.
DeepMind has also released predictions that could help scientists better understand the coronavirus protein structure in order to develop future treatments.