Cue Health taps Google Cloud to track down COVID variants and connect its portable tests

After bringing its rapid COVID-19 diagnostic into people’s homes—and its company to Wall Street—test maker Cue Health now aims to take its technology to the cloud.

Through a new collaboration with Google Cloud, Cue plans to add real-time tracking of viral variants and sequencing data bolstered by artificial intelligence programs to help identify newly emerging threats.

The companies hope to provide public health officials with information about the spread of COVID-19, including its geographic distribution, as well as other infectious diseases such as the flu and respiratory syncytial virus.

"Thanks to our relationships with the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, we're already making an impact in many states, where it's been extremely gratifying to see Cue help make health information accessible and timely,” Cue co-founder and CEO Ayub Khattak said in a statement, referring to the hundreds of millions in U.S. government contracts the company received over the past year to distribute its hand-held coronavirus tests.

“Together with Google Cloud, we can combine immediate and connected lab-quality diagnostics with the power of genome sequencing and AI-enabled predictive capabilities to develop a new kind of tool for public health," Khattak added.

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The Fierce 15 winner’s cartridge-based, molecular COVID test was authorized by the FDA this past March for use at home without a prescription. The self-contained nasal swab diagnostic can be used for children as young as two, with results taking about 20 minutes, and was previously drafted by the NBA to help screen its players.

After raising $235 million in venture capital funding less than six months ago, Cue went public in late September, adding another $200 million to its coffers. Portions of those proceeds will help prepare the company—which has grown to over 1,200 employees—for a pivot to a post-COVID world, with a platform of tests for multiple diseases and conditions.

In a sense, it’s also a return to the company's pre-pandemic mission: to provide easily distributable, self-performed diagnostic tests for influenza. Now the company has set its sights on offering a menu of simple tests, coupled with a digital telehealth platform spanning respiratory, cardiovascular and sexual health.