Bay Area coronavirus testing is about to get a boost from the private sector.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic project the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is collaborating with UCSF and the medical research nonprofit the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub to expand COVID-19 testing in Silicon Valley’s backyard.
The collaboration will mean that UCSF, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and other local Department of Public Health sites will be able to bring additional testing online as the pandemic threatens the health of communities around the globe. USCF’s goal is to test at least 1,000 people per day in its lab “within the coming days.”
The increased testing capacity will prioritize UCSF inpatients, then outpatients displaying symptoms of the virus — a group that has largely gone untested. Currently, UCSF can administer between 60 and 100 tests per day.
Chan Zuckerberg Biohub co-president Joe DeRisi described the effort as a “sprint” to increase clinical testing capacity. The private partnership will provide more than just purchases of testing equipment, including “operational support, informatics, and protocol development.” In 2003, DeRisi’s research contributed to the identification of SARS, a coronavirus related to the COVID-19 virus.
The partnership between the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and UCSF’s testing lab was made possible by an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom, issued when the governor declared a state of emergency in early March.
“Dramatically expanded testing capacity — as well as rapid deployment of testing to all those who need it — is essential to stemming the spread of COVID-19,” CZI co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Priscilla Chan said.
In California, 22 public health labs were performing COVID-19 tests as of early this week. As of Wednesday, California had tested 12,600 people, with 585 testing positive.