A Seattle-area coronavirus testing program backed by billionaire Bill Gates was reportedly halted by the federal government last week due to operating without the proper approval.
The program, called the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, is a partnership between research groups and the Seattle and King County public health department that uses at-home test kits for coronavirus surveillance and diagnostic purposes, The New York Times reported.
SCAN had been operating with state approval — already testing thousands of samples — but administrators were told by the Food and Drug Administration last week to cease operations.
“Please discontinue patient testing and return of diagnostic results to patients until proper authorization is obtained,” the FDA wrote to the partnership in a memo obtained by the newspaper.
Through the program, which uncovered dozens of previously undetected cases, tests are delivered to both healthy and sick people in an attempt to reach a wider population.
Gates lauded the program in a blog post from last week.
“Not only will it help improve our understanding of the outbreak in Seattle, it will also provide valuable information about the virus for other communities around the world,” Gates wrote, according to the report.
An FDA spokesperson in a statement to The Times, wrote, “We had previously understood that SCAN was being conducted as a surveillance study.”
SCAN is also used to diagnose patients and diagnostic tests have separate federal standards, the report said. The group told The Times they have been communicating with the FDA about the program for about 10 weeks.
“We are actively working to address their questions,” the group told the paper.