How Fast Grants Sped Up Cheap Covid Saliva Testing : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money Yale's Anne Wyllie pioneered saliva coronavirus testing, but wasted a lot of precious time worrying about funding. Until she met her fairy godmother, an economist funding covid-fighting ideas fast.

The Spit Queen, The Economist And The NBA

The Spit Queen, The Economist And The NBA

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Yale School of Public Health
Yale researcher Anne Wyllie. Wyllie pioneered saliva coronavirus testing.
Yale School of Public Health

During the first months of the pandemic, researchers scrambled to conduct COVID-related research. Yet many were still wasting time worrying about funding applications. Microbiologist Anne Wyllie wanted to adapt saliva testing methods for COVID testing, but her team was running out of money: Traditional funding sources were still requiring a ton of paperwork and long wait times.

Enter Fast Grants, an initiative led by economist Tyler Cowen at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. Fast Grants had a short application form, with funding decisions initially made within 48 hours. That was so that scientists could focus on what they are best at — research.

This is a story about why some institutions are slow to react in a crisis, and why others, like Fast Grants — and also the NBA — move quickly.

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