Brett Giroir, the former Trump administration testing czar, will serve as an adviser to

Gauss Surgical Inc., a closely-held maker of rapid at-home Covid-19 screenings.

Giroir, whose title will be chief medical advisor, joins the company as it seeks U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization for a 15-minute antigen test being developed along with the biotech Cellex. Test-takers collect their own swab and complete the process themselves, with results read using an artificial intelligence-powered mobile app.

Brett Giroir

Photographer: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/Bloomberg

Giroir said he first heard about Gauss five years ago, and was intrigued by the many applications for its computer-vision technology, which he said could increase accessibility and drive down costs because it relies only on a mobile-phone camera.

Im going to Gauss because of their platform technology, which has applications for testing but also anything from in-hospital blood loss and other applications, including caring for wounds at home and monitoring for diabetes complications, Giroir said in an interview.

After many months of calls by public-health experts to make Covid screenings as accessible as an over-the-counter pregnancy test, the FDA late last year began authorizing home-based tests, — including ones from Ellume and

Abbott Laboratories. Still, they are far from widely available. The Biden administration has sought to ramp up supply by making

investments in the space.

Menlo Park, California-based Gauss was founded in 2011 and is backed by investors including

SoftBank Ventures and health systems like

Northwell Health and Mount Sinai, according to PitchBook.

The companys at-home Covid test was submitted to the FDA for emergency clearance late last fall. The assay will cost $30 to $40 initially, a price tag expected to decline to $10 to $15 with scale. The company has manufactured 1.5 million tests and can make as many as 30 million tests per month, a spokesman said.

Gauss has previously announced plans to distribute the at-home test through

Kroger Healths website and pharmacies, and through the telemedicine company Ro.

Giroir, 60, is a pediatrician and admiral with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who has previously worked for the federal government, in academia as well as in industry.

He joined the Trump administration in 2018 and was put in charge of Covid testing in March 2020, overseeing the expansion of infrastructure and efforts to get screenings to at-risk populations.

FDA Clears First At-Home, Over-the-Counter Covid-19 Test (1)

During his tenure, the government testing response was widely criticized as being insufficient, as labs consistently struggled to get supplies to perform tests and test-seekers faced long wait times during surges and around holidays.

His appointment with Gauss comes as virus testing is declining, which is at least in part due to a recent, major drop in infections. Still, experts worry it also reflects exhaustion with the now yearlong pandemic, and that insufficient testing could deprive public-health officials of key information.

Giroir now is planning to spend about half his time working on nonpartisan health policy, and the remainder working with two or three technology companies, including Gauss, as well as on charitable issues.

While Covid testing demand going forward is hard to predict, people will continue to use it in the short term if they dont receive vaccinations early or, for instance, if they are immuno-suppressed, Giroir said.

Theres always going to be a need for testing, and the more convenient you can make it, the better that is, Giroir said.

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