The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $5 million commitment to strengthen COVID-19 detection capacity in the greater Seattle region. The grant is in addition to the $100 million the foundation had already committed in response to the outbreak.
The foundation will work with Public Health-Seattle & King County, the Washington State Department of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help public health agencies in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding communities strengthen their capacity to detect and treat the virus.
The public-private partnership also will explore how the resources of the Seattle Flu Study can be used to monitor and respond to the outbreak. Launched in 2018 and led by the Seattle-based Brotman Baty Institute, in collaboration with UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children's, the initiative originally was aimed at creating a community-wide network that could detect and respond rapidly to infectious disease outbreaks. With more than $20 million in support from Gates Ventures, a venture capital firm established by Bill Gates, the initiative today is exploring innovative ways to track the spread of viruses across a large urban area, including rapid virus genetic sequencing and mapping chains of transmission.
"Early detection plays an essential role in helping public health authorities identify and treat people with COVID-19, take steps to safely isolate them, and reduce transmission within the community," said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. "The Gates Foundation deeply appreciates the efforts that local, state, and federal public health authorities have invested in responding to this outbreak, and we are eager to contribute our knowledge and resources to the effort."
(Photo credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)