University COVID-19 saliva testing expands nationally

Martin Burke, associate dean for research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and chair of the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team, talks to members of the media at the COVID-19 testing site on July 7.

Samantha Boyle

Martin Burke, associate dean for research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and chair of the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team, talks to members of the media at the COVID-19 testing site on July 7.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

The saliva-based testing created by UI researchers will be used nationally through a new organization the University of Illinois Board of Trustees created to help expand the testing process.

Researchers disclosed information about the testing process to promote safety on campus when in-person instruction would reopen for the fall semester. After the announcement many institutions and universities inquired about the testing process and the technology used.

An internal unit called SHIELD Illinois is working to make tests available in Illinois and will continue to increase current testing capacity with hopes to offer testing to institutions all across the country in the future.

University researchers developed this technology in the SHIELD program. It features a saliva-based test that is easy to administer, cost-efficient and produces quick results within two to six hours compared to other tests that take three to four days.

The new organization is known as Shield T3 and will allow the SHIELD program to spread nationwide. The name is a reference to their three main applications which are targeting, testing and telling. The new organization will operate separately from the Illinois SHIELD program.

The organization is going to be led by a nine-member board of managers which will be designated by the University’s Board of Trustees based on recommendations from the president.

The Executive Committee has approved a resolution that would allow the chancellors from all three of the U of I Systems to authorize reduced student fees for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The fees for the semester were set in January but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many services have been impacted. As a result of this issue, the resolution would allow the chancellors to reduce fees as needed.

[email protected]