Quest for Faster COVID Test Spurs $5M Contest

XPrize is offering big bucks to innovators who can come up with rapid-result virus testing
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2020 11:34 AM CDT
Quest for Faster COVID Test Spurs $5M Contest
A health worker administers a coronavirus test in Limassol, Cyprus, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Last week, the Trump administration's point man on COVID-19 testing acknowledged that turnaround times for test results have been too slow, noting that "we are never going to be happy with testing until we get turnaround times within 24 hours." Now, a nonprofit hopes to help expedite that process with a competition and big cash prizes. TechCrunch reports that XPrize is calling for innovators to come up with low-cost, rapid-result testing, whether that comes via an at-home test, on-site at clinics and hospitals, or through labs. "In order to properly reopen schools, businesses, and other vital institutions around the world, the world needs COVID-19 testing options that are fast, affordable, and easy to implement," the group says on its contest page.

Judges will review all entries and pick the winners based on how well the tests work, their scalability, cost (capped at $15 per test; Mashable notes current tests cost about $100), and how quick the turnaround is, with a 12-hour max—though, per Live Science, they're hoping some tests may offer results in just 15 minutes. Sign-up for the competition must be done by Aug. 31. Five winning teams will be announced by January, with $1 million awarded to each team. XPrize is partnering in this initiative with OpenCovidScreen, a science-driven organization seeking to drive innovation in coronavirus testing. (More coronavirus stories.)

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