Coronavirus: Google denies developing self-diagnosis website

Coronavirus: Google denies developing self-diagnosis website
Debbie Birx, White House coordinator, explains the workings of the alleged website © C-Span

Internet search giant Google has denied a claim by US president Donald Trump that the company is working with the government to develop a website that will allow the public to find out if they require a test for the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Trump made the claim during a press conference about the government’s emergency declaration on the coronavirus pandemic.

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,” Trump said.

We have many, many locations behind us, by the way. We cover this country and large parts of the world, by the way. We’re not gonna be talking about the world right now, but we cover very, very strongly our country. Stores in virtually every location. Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They have made tremendous progress.”

According to technology website The Verge, most of that statement is untrue, and the rest is only partly true.

Google’s parent company, after a recent restructuring, is Alphabet. Another small division is Verily Life sciences, which is indeed developing a website, but not for the purposes stated.

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,” the company said in a statement sent to The Verge.

The triage website, the company explained, would only be accessible to health care professionals, and only in a limited area around San Francisco.

We appreciate the support of government officials and industry partners and thank the Google engineers who have volunteered to be part of this effort.”

At the press conference, Debbie Birx, the administration’s coronavirus coordinator, showed a flow-chart purporting to explain how the website would function. The visitor would enter their symptoms and personal details, and would then be directed to a testing facility in their area if the site determined that they needed to be tested.

However neither Google, Verily or Alphabet were invited to take part in the press conference, although other companies were present.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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