Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic groups are working to help increase the number of tests for the novel coronavirus in the Bay Area by at least 1,000 tests per day in “the coming days,” he said in a Facebook post on Thursday. Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) tells The Verge that the goal is to be able to support at least 1,000 tests in less than 30 days.
CZI, which Zuckerberg manages with his wife Priscilla Chan, is working with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which would administer the COVID-19 tests, according to CZI. They’re also working with the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which researches ways to cure and manage diseases. The partnership is possible due to an executive order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom that lets Biohub help UCSF expand its testing capacity.
Right now, UCSF has a testing capacity of between 60 and 100 tests per day, according to UCSF, so scaling that up to at least 1,000 tests per day would be a significant increase.
“Ramp-up of testing volumes is in progress and includes complex logistical work to report test results to diverse organizations,” said Dr. Steve Miller, a professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, in a statement to The Verge. “Our target is approximately 1000 tests per day, though we will scale gradually to ensure we enable increased testing capacity in the most effective manner.”
Zuckerberg first outlined his plans to aid with Bay Area testing earlier this month, when he said he would fund a quadruple increase in Bay Area coronavirus testing through CZI and Biohub in an announcement on March 10th. CZI and Biohub are buying two Food and Drug Administration-approved diagnostic machines that can test for diseases such as COVID-19 that will be used by UCSF, according to a CZI news release.
At the time of that announcement, UCSF was expected to start increasing testing volume as early as March 16th, the San Francisco Business Times reported. It’s unclear if that expansion has happened yet.
Stanford also hopes to increase testing capacity to more than 1,000 tests per day in the coming days, according to CZI’s press release published yesterday. Stanford declined to comment when asked if it could give more specifics on that timeline.