CHICAGO (Oct. 25, 2022)
Shield T3 Prepares for a Tripledemic; Test Kit Eliminates Confusion over Illnesses with Similar Symptoms
Shield T3, a spinout of the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partners Institute, is now offering a saliva-based PCR test kit that will screen for three illnesses — COVID-19, Influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V. — in response to a potential “tripledemic” this winter.
The three viruses have similar symptoms — fever, cough and congestion — but very different treatment methods, making quick identification important. This test will help customers know within 24 hours if they have one of these three viruses.
The New York Times reported Sunday that with few travel restrictions in place and socializing back to normal, the annual winter rise in COVID-19 cases is “poised to collide with a resurgent influenza season, causing a ‘twindemic’ — or even a ‘tripledemic,’ with a third pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., in the mix.
“Cases of flu have begun to tick up earlier than usual, and are expected to soar over the coming weeks. Children infected with R.S.V. (which has similar symptoms to flu and Covid), rhinoviruses and enteroviruses are already straining pediatric hospitals in several states.”
The Shield T3 kit, which is no bigger than a wallet, requires users to provide a small sample of drool and then mail the kit back to one of the company’s CLIA-certified labs. Lab technicians run two separate tests on the sample, one for COVID, and one for flu and R.S.V.
The test kit is currently available to Shield T3 partners, including schools and companies, and also can be carried in the company’s new COVID-19 vending machines, which are stocked with tests. The cost of the test is $70 or less, which represents significant savings over running the tests in a clinical setting.
“This is so much easier and less expensive than going to a campus clinic or a doctor,” said David Clark, Shield T3’s CEO. “We’re working to become your partner for easy, rapid and accurate diagnostic tests from home, which is where you want to be if you’re sick.”
School administrators are able to access demand and positivity-rate data from the tests via an online dashboard.
“Given the current state of the pandemic, when you’re sick these days, you have no idea what you have; it could just be a cold, but it could be something, like COVID, that requires you to isolate,” said Bill Jackson, Shield T3’s principal officer. “This test gives our customers a quicker answer.”
Shield T3 grew out of an easy-to-administer PCR saliva test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2020. The company has a track record, having run more than 4.8 million saliva tests nationwide for more than 250 schools, businesses and other organizations.