Access to Care and Broad Testing for COVID-19

By Matt Ocko and Zachary Bogue 03.25.20

Yesterday, we reached out to our Limited Partners to give them an update on the state of our business in this fraught time. In the past 24 hours, there has been interest in that email, and we wanted to publish it in full. We feel the most relevant part of the email is our recent blog post highlighting all the work our founders and their dedicated teams are doing to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of those great teams is Carbon Health, a company that has created one of the most comprehensive and efficient COVID-19 patient care strategies in the country.

They developed their response to this pandemic and how to identify, test and treat patients very early on when many in the US – and the global community – didn’t see it as a serious threat outside of China. As a result, they have conducted ~5% of all COVID-19 testing in California.

Part of Carbon’s strategy involves initiating patient care at home and directing physician-ordered diagnostics to their nearest lab. One of several Carbon partners is DCVC portfolio company Curative, which has a CLIA-validated saliva-based COVID-19 test. This test is both fast and simple to administer, enabling many more Californians to be tested including at drive-throughs up and running in LA in cooperation with the Mayor’s office. It also doesn’t consume scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) in the same way as existing nasal tests, and scales independently of current strained testing supply chains.

With changes in regulations enabling telemedicine across state lines, we wanted to make sure everyone DCVC knows was aware of Carbon’s excellent care and full suite of testing. And yes, that includes people who work at our Limited Partners, who are making difficult decisions for themselves and their families in difficult times like the rest of us.

With Carbon moving at the pace they do with their fast, friendly electronic on-boarding, and with Curative’s testing capability likely ramping to 10,000+ tests a day in the next ten days, the combined health care firepower can indeed “expedite” care for everybody.

Was our language a little boastful? Yes, no excuses. And we’re sorry if folks got the wrong idea. No one is “jumping in line.” We will always strive to point out to our friends and community where they can get quick access to quality care as well as access to other cutting-edge technology in our portfolio.

All Americans should have access to the kind of care Carbon and others provide and access to broad testing, which has been shown to be essential in countries like Germany and South Korea to bend the curve in this pandemic. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, we urge you to take the first step in your care with Carbon Health by checking your symptoms through its assessment tool.

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Full text of our email to LPs:

March 24, 2020

Subject: DCVC – LP Update

Dear DCVC Limited Partner,

We hope you, your team and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. As the DCVC team heads into our fourth week of working from home and social distancing, we are increasingly confident in our ability to manage our portfolio companies and our operations without in-person contact. Our transition to a fully remote DCVC has thus far been seamless thanks to already in place infrastructure and even more important, a resilient team.

First, please let us know as soon as possible if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are unable to get tested. Through a unique relationship with one of our portfolio companies, we will expedite delivery of a test kit (simple, fast, safe saliva/cheek swab) that should provide results within 1-3 days via return by mail.

We are working tirelessly to monitor and engage with our core portfolio companies to encourage aggressive re-planning and, where necessary, implement cuts to burn rate to extend runway through the uncertain times ahead. We are pleased to report that a majority of core portfolio companies are well-positioned with sufficient runway to endure a near-term recession, and all are taking meaningful steps to further extend that runway. We are actively working to re-plan and otherwise shore up the cash position of the minority that do not. Extraordinary challenges still remain for all of our portfolio companies, and we will remain in close contact as circumstances evolve.

Our pipeline of investment opportunities continues to be strong. High-quality video conferencing empowers us to complete thorough due diligence and reference calls, as well as facilitate management teams’ presentations to the partnership—all relatively seamlessly. Due to uncertainty in the capital markets, however, we expect to have a more measured investment pace over the coming months. For any new investment, at a minimum, we would seek to build a strong syndicate and insist on funding through the next 24 months, if not longer.

Finally, in what motivates all of us at DCVC to keep at it during these challenging times, multiple DCVC companies are actively helping to alleviate and “bend the curve” for COVID-19, either directly with cures, tests or treatments, or indirectly with other healthcare products and services. We detailed their impressive efforts in our blog post on Friday.

As always, we are available to answer any questions you have about our funds and portfolio companies.

Best Regards,

Matt, Zack and the whole DCVC team

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