Trump says Google making website on coronavirus testing, Google says not really
Last night US President Donald Trump declared State of Emergency in his country. The Trump administration is facing criticism for moving slowly on checking coronavirus in the US so the president also used the occasion to announce some new measures.
One of these measures to control coronavirus epidemic according to Trump is supposed to be an upcoming Google website dedicated to coronavirus that will help people not only get timely information about the epidemic but also find nearest test centres.
But a few hours after Trump named Google as his government’s partner in fight against coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, Google distanced itself from the whole thing.
In two tweets, Google said that it wasn’t working on the kind of website that Trump talked of. Instead, the company is working on a much smaller website, through Verily, which is part of Google’s parent group Alphabet.
In a measured statement, Verily said: “We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing. Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time… We appreciate the support of government officials and industry partners and thank the Google engineers who have volunteered to be part of this effort.”
In other words, there is a website under development but it is small, limited in scope as well as area as it is going to be meant for people in Bay area, which is San Francisco and surrounding places, and the website is being built not by Google but by Verily.
Trump had earlier said: “Google is going to develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past to determine if a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location… Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They have made tremendous progress.”
The US government has come under criticism for its slow pace — and on occasions botched — pace of coronavirus testing. On the other hand there are countries like Sound Korea and Germany that have rapidly ramped up testing of people in a bid to contain coronavirus infections. It is possible that trump administration has asked tech companies, including Google, to create app and web-based mechanism that can be integrated with the test centres and allow people to book and take coronavirus tests with minimal effort.
In India too the government has not been as proactive in testing coronavirus cases as countries like South Korea and Germany. Currently there are around 50 testing labs in India for Coronavirus but anecdotal reports on social media suggests that India is not yet testing all patients with coronovirus infection symptoms, which are fairly similar to the symptoms of flu. Instead, for now India is only testing people who have history of international travel, and who have come in contact with confirmed coronavirus patients.