SCAN resumes COVID-19 tests after resolving snag

Test in lab
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network says that it’s resuming sample collection after resolving a regulatory snag. (Public Health – Seattle & King County via Twitter)

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network today resumed its at-home COVID-19 testing campaign, nearly a month after the program was suspended due to regulatory snags.

Public Health – Seattle & King County announced that the research study could go forward with the approval of an institutional review board and oversight by the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

“SCAN continues to provide an important and unique window into the COVID-19 outbreak across King County, and in its next phase will also help us expand access to testing for at-risk groups,” Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a blog posting. “This data can inform public health decisions in the weeks and months to come as King County takes steps to increase activities and get back to work.”

Winning the review board’s approval cleared up an issue that led SCAN’s organizers to put the project on pause on May 12.

Get the full story on GeekWire.


FDA concerns hold up coronavirus-tracking project

The organizers of the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, a virus-tracking project supported by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, say their efforts are being paused while they deal with concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration.

Word of SCAN’s suspension came just a day after the world’s second-richest person praised the effort in GatesNotes, his personal blog. “It has the potential to become an important tool for health officials seeking insights about the spread and behavior of the virus,” Gates wrote.

SCAN aims to track the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 throughout the Seattle area by sending out at-home tests and picking them up for analysis, with logistical support from Amazon Care, the health care program for Amazon employees. Over the past seven weeks, tests have been sent out to about 12,500 test subjects, including people with symptoms and people without symptoms.

The project had been operating under an arrangement by which the FDA let state public health officials issue Emergency Use Authorizations for coronavirus tests developed within their states. Today, SCAN said it was notified that separate federal authorization is now required to return test results, due to revisions in the guidance that were issued last week.

SCAN said it’s been working to address the FDA’s questions and hopes to have full authorization “soon.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.


Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network launches

Home testing
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network will rely on at-home testing for a wide spectrum of Seattle-area residents. (Photo via SCAN / Seattle-King County Public Health)

The scientific sleuths who tracked down the origins of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle area have announced a new initiative to crack the case wide-open — and they’re signing up volunteers for self-testing at home.

So many volunteers responded in the first few hours that the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, or SCAN, reached its capacity for today and told people they’ll have to check back later to sign up.

“Due to limited capacity, we will not be able to test every individual,” SCAN’s principal investigator, University of Washington geneticist Jay Shendure, said in a tweet.

The project draws upon financial support from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and is getting assistance with infrastructure and logistics from Amazon Care, a healthcare program for Amazon employees in the Seattle area.