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Press Release

June 10, 2022

A Negative COVID Test Has Never Been So Meaningless

A string of negatives can still presage a clear-as-day positive.
By Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic

In early May, 27-year-old Hayley Furmaniuk felt tired and a bit congested, but after rapid-testing negative for the coronavirus two days in a row, she dined indoors with friends. The next morning, her symptoms worsened. Knowing her parents were driving in for Mother’s Day, she tested again—and saw a very bright positive. Which meant three not-so-great things: She needed to cancel with her parents; she had likely exposed her friends; a test had apparently taken three days to register what her vaccinated body had already figured out…

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Press Release

January 31, 2022 (CHICAGO)

Shield T3 and the Discovery Partners Institute Announce Commercialization of COVID-19 Wastewater Monitoring T3 to provide services to other states, counties

Shield T3 and the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) today announced a new service to state and local governments outside of Illinois: Testing COVID-19 and its variants in sewage.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is detectable in human waste nearly from the onset of infection, while symptoms may not appear for three to five days. Thus, monitoring wastewater for the virus provides public health officials with early warnings of a potential outbreak.

DPI has been monitoring COVID-19 in sewers or at wastewater treatment plants statewide under two separate government grants.
Shield T3, a for-profit organization founded by the University of Illinois System, is providing more than 1 million saliva-based COVID-19 tests per quarter in the United States. It operates seven labs and plans to open two more in response to increased demand.

This is Shield T3’s first service offering outside of its saliva-based test.

“Wastewater testing complements individual saliva-based testing by enabling cities, campuses, or facilities such as congregate living facilities to monitor an entire community,” said David Clark, CEO of Shield T3. “This is particularly important because we have entered a phase in the pandemic where many people are not tested because they self-treat at home or are asymptomatic.”

Wastewater monitoring involves taking 1.7-ounce (50ml) samples twice weekly and shipping these overnight for laboratory analysis.

This new service builds on the successes of DPI’s wastewater-based epidemiology team, a multi-institutional interdisciplinary science team that was awarded DPI seed funding in 2020. Poretsky leads the team, which includes experts from DPI, UIC, Northwestern, and Argonne National Laboratory. (Photos and b-roll of Poretsky in her lab are here.)

“We are very much looking forward to building early warning systems for cities and states nationwide,” Clark said. “We’ve proven we can do it in Illinois, and now we want to take that expertise to other parts of the nation that need it.”

About DPI

The Discovery Partners Institute’s ambition is to propel Chicago into a pre-eminent and inclusive tech economy over the next decade. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, it does three things: tech talent development, applied R&D and business building. DPI prepares diverse students and workers to step into high-demand tech jobs. It also builds research teams and matches them with new funding. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here.

Contact:
Melissa Harris
melissa@mharris.com

Press Release

Jan. 19, 2022

SHIELD T3 now offering pooled COVID testing services covidSHIELD earns federal emergency use authorization for pooled testing

Shield T3, the University of Illinois System’s national COVID-testing unit, is now offering pooled saliva-based PCR testing services to universities, K-12 schools and companies to make it easier on students and workers to get tested.

Organizations that utilize the U of I-developed covidSHIELD test for their employees or students now have the option to collect samples from up to eight people and then test them in a single pool or “batch” using one test, rather than run each sample on its own test.

If the pool is positive, then one or more of the people tested in that pool may be infected, so each sample in that pool is tested individually. Because the samples are pooled, fewer tests are run overall. Thus, fewer supplies are used and more tests can be run simultaneously, leading to quicker results.

“Sample pooling, using a highly sensitive Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) and easily collectible and non-invasive specimen such as saliva, is an important step forward in getting more COVID-19 tests to more Americans while mpreserving testing supplies and reducing costs,” said Tulsiram “Ram” Prathapam, Chief Scientific Officer for T3. “In that way, pooling is more than a process or technology; it’s a public health tool.”

The pooled offering is now possible after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted the covidSHIELD test emergency use authorization for pooling earlier this month.

“Bar none, this will make gold-standard, saliva-based testing more affordable for schools and companies because it conserves valuable supplies,” said Robert Ludtke, Chief Operating Officer for Shield T3. “We hope this will encourage more companies and schools to choose PCR testing versus less reliable antigen testing.”

The Shield T3 testing system has a built-in capability for monitoring test results and vaccine compliance via an online dashboard and an ability to display the compliance status in a personal passport/badge application.

Shield T3, a for-profit organization, is providing more than 1 million tests per quarter in the United States and abroad. It operates seven labs and plans to open two more in response to increased demand.

About covidSHIELD
Pioneered by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, covidSHIELD is a comprehensive solution to curb and control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The covidSHIELD testing process is currently in use at schools, universities, community colleges, government entities, and companies throughout the United States.

Contact:
Melissa Harris
melissa@mharris.com

Omicron Press Release

Jan. 6, 2022

Shield T3, the University of Illinois System’s national COVID-testing unit, is now offering unobserved PCR testing services to universities, K-12 schools and companies to make it easier on students and workers to get tested.

Organizations that utilize the U of I-developed covidSHIELD test for their employees or students now have the option to pick up a kit and collect the sample outside of a typical collection site.

Individuals can take the test home or provide a sample in their office and then return it to their employer or school. The organization will then submit the sample to one of Shield T3’s seven labs for processing. Results are delivered within 24 hours of receipt at the lab via an app.

The service offerings are now possible after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted the covidSHIELD test emergency use authorization for unobserved testing in October.

“Shield T3 and the University of Illinois System have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and are now continuing to innovate,” said Shield T3 principal officer Bill Jackson. “We are so proud to have invented a test that is now protecting millions of people worldwide from a virus that remains very dangerous.”

The Shield T3 testing system has a built-in capability for monitoring test results and vaccine compliance via an online dashboard and an ability to display the compliance status in a personal passport/badge application.

Shield T3, a for-profit organization, is providing more than 1 million tests per quarter in the United States and abroad. It has plans to open two more labs in response to a pending federal rule requiring most private employers to test unvaccinated workers weekly. The unobserved testing will streamline the collection process for partners that have chosen to self-collect.

About covidSHIELD

Pioneered by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, covidSHIELD is a comprehensive solution to curb and control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The covidSHIELD testing process is currently in use at schools, universities, community colleges, government entities, and companies throughout the United States.