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.
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.