Stanford launches cloud-based COVID-19 testing; here's how it could help students return to school, businesses reopen

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Quick and efficient testing is one of the main weapons in fighting COVID-19. Now researchers at Stanford along with the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub, are hoping to accelerate the process even more.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, doctors at Stanford have tested thousands of people for the virus.

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Now, they're launching a system to leverage that testing power, potentially helping students return to school, and businesses to reopen. It's a cloud-based testing platform, known as Vera.

"It's basically an end to end way to track people over time for systems," explains Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, M.D.

Dr. Maldonado is an infectious disease specialist at Stanford and helped develop the system. She says if a registered participant does report symptoms, they'll be able to request a home testing kit in the mail or be possibly be directed to a convenient testing site.

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"And the results get reported to the patient. If their positive the patient gets a call," she says.

The Vera platform will use a Stanford test to begin with, but the plan is to expand it to potentially include providers around the country. Team member Stephen Quake, Ph.D. is a bioengineering professor who's developed prenatal tests in the past.

"There are people who need testing but don't have the ability to connect to labs, and we're trying to fix that problem," says Dr. Quake.

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Ultimately, the idea is to help school districts, businesses, and even local health departments develop low-cost testing programs of their own, using the platform. And possibly accelerating their ability to keep populations safer, as they begin the delicate process of returning to school and work.

The Vera team is hoping to begin registering participants now.

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