There is perhaps no more pressing problem for technologists to tackle right now than the COVID-19 crisis that is threatening lives and economies around the world.
In that spirit, Genobank.io and the Telos Foundation have partnered to develop an open-source app that will allow users to securely source low-cost COVID-19 testing. The results will be stored anonymously on the Telos blockchain, where each user will control their own data and have the ability to share their results with researchers, if they choose, using health privacy and a new token from Genobank.io.
A global, multidisciplinary team has been collaborating remotely in recent weeks, working in sprints to build a new mobile app for users, a processing interface for laboratories, a privacy-ensuring blockchain architecture, and sourcing and logistics solutions for low-cost COVID-19 tests and processing. The initial version of the app is expected to launch in April.
Any Agerona mobile app user will be able to find a source for the test kits in their country and order separately from the app to further enhance anonymity. When a user receives the test, they can scan the test’s unique barcode and associate that test with a free, anonymous account on the Telos blockchain which the user alone controls. The test kit can then be anonymously sent to a verified lab for processing. The receipt and processing of these tests will be tracked on Telos for transparency. Results will be written to the blockchain, but with no connection to any individual. Researchers will be able to read aggregate data from the system along with minimal geographic information (country and postal code, if provided) in order to better track the progress of the disease.
While testing is beginning to ramp up around the world, there is a growing concern that people outside health care systems or in marginalized populations may resist testing efforts due to fears of government action towards infected persons of various legal statuses. Genobank.io CEO Daniel Uribe and Telos contributors Douglas Horn and Suvi Rinkin originated the project to address these needs in the United States, but as new contributors came onboard, it became clear that this would need to be a global effort and rollout. Project contributors are based in the US, Iran, Israel, South Africa, the UK, and a rapidly growing list of other countries. International organizations are already expressing great interest in supporting the project. All open source components will be available to anyone to use and expand. Telos Foundation will work with teams in various countries that want to work with the official Agernoa by Genobank.io project to set up test kit supply and processing logistics in their country through the Agerona mobile app and website.
“This project is a remarkable example of how individuals from around the world can come together to increase the tools we have to address global problems. Increasingly, we will see grassroots teams such as this rapidly providing solutions that governments cannot,” says Horn. “We built Telos precisely to enable this type of peer-to-peer interaction. It’s rewarding to see a number of Telos developers come together and contribute their own code and expertise in support of the technology and logistics that Genobank.io brings to the table. The synergies are enormous and I’m so proud of every Agerona contributor.”
Genobank.io’s Uribe notes, “We are honored to join this amazing team led by Telos Foundation and aim to contribute by sharing our experience in the fields of genomics, privacy laws and decentralized DNA data wallets to achieve the best privacy-preserving platform and an anonymous COVID-19 Test kit using the Telos Network. People have the right to know if they have the coronavirus without violating their privacy.”
The Agernoa dapp will also have an experimental feature where users can record a sound clip of their cough, if they choose, and submit it for the creation of an AI-based diagnostic tool. This tool, built on Genobank.io technology, will attempt to provide a way for people to perform an instant pre-test for the virus simply from the sound of their coughing.
More information will be available soon regarding the availability of the Agerona mobile app and test kits. Interested contributors and organizations are encouraged to contact the Telos Foundation via the Twitter handle @HelloTelos.