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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, with cold weather arriving before even the best-case scenario for a widely distributed vaccine. Now we're also beginning to see an increase in coronavirus-related startup funding, focused on both testing and pharma.

Driving the news: Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision startup focused on health care, tells Axios that it's raised $10 million to accelerate development and commercialization of an at-home rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

  • Gauss was founded in 2011 to focus on surgical bleeding, but earlier this year signed a partnership with biotech Cellex to create what would be the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed at home without involving a lab.
  • CEO Sid Satish says that Gauss will file with the FDA for an emergency use authorization "in days not weeks" and will release its data soon.
  • The 4100 Group led the round, and was joined by return backers SoftBank Ventures Asia, Northwell Health, Providence Health and Services, OSF Healthcare, and Polaris Partners.

Other deals have included a $215 million infusion for antiviral treatment developer Atea Pharma (which is now nearing an IPO) and a $100 million deal for portable testing company Cue Health.

Between the lines: The big concern for venture capitalists is that some startups will put too many eggs in the COVID-19 basket, and then be stuck when demand shifts.

  • Satish says his company is trying to mitigate that risk by maintaining its pre-pandemic products and customers, but adds that controlling spread is just an initial application for COVID-19 testing.
  • "You'll need some overlap of testing as a safety net and bridge to when a significant portion of people have been vaccinated. And, even with a vaccine, I think easy rapid testing will be a long-term necessity as a risk reduction method."

Go deeper

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Health

Fauci apologizes for criticizing U.K. regulators over Pfizer vaccine approval

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert, on Thursday walked back his earlier comments criticizing British regulators over their recent approval the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

What he's saying: "I have a great deal of confidence in what the U.K. does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint," Dr Fauci told the BBC on Thursday after saying earlier in the day that U.K. regulators "rushed" their approval of the vaccine.

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Highlights from Biden and Harris' first joint interview since the election

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.