Saturday, March 21, 2020

US-China Team Up to Provide At-Home Testing Kits for Coronavirus

Scanwell Health team led by Stephen Chen
In another sign of US-China collaboration in fighting the coronavirus outbreak, LA-based startup Scanwell Health is licensing technology from a Chinese company to distribute at-home testing kits for COVID-19.
Pending approval via the FDA's emergency use authorization, the kits should be available in the U.S. within two months. The test kits, produced by Beijing-based biotechnology Bioventure-backed company Innovita, have been used in China clinical trials at five institutions for help in diagnosing COVID-19.
The test kit works this way. A patient completes an online questionnaire that is evaluated by Scanwell partner Lemonaid Health, a telemedicine provider in San Francisco with online doctors and a mail order pharmacy. Upon evaluation, an at-home test kit can be mailed out to a patient the next business day. The patient does the test at home in as little as 15 minutes and securely shares the results with a doctor or nurse via the Scanwell app. 
The test detects antibodies against the novel coronavirus in the blood, which indicates that an individual has been exposed and developed antibodies against the virus. Antibody tests are helpful in tracking the spread of the virus because they also identify mild or asymptomatic carriers and those who have been previously infected.
While the gold standard test is DNA based, these at-home tests gives patients personalized guidance in a safe environment while limiting exposure and allowing for wide-scale testing, said Stephen Chen, founder and CO of Scanwell Health. "We hope that these home-use test kits will ease the burden on healthcare centers, so that they can focus on the highest severity cases," added Chen.
Scanwell, a developer of smartphone apps for at-home diagnostics, expects to roll out the kit-testing app in New York, California and Washington first, upon approval. The company was seed funded in 2019 by DCM, Founders Fund, Mayfield and YCombinator