University of Illinois COVID-19 saliva tests are 'working' on its campus, researchers say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The University of Illinois says its rapid saliva-based COVID-19 test is "working" for its campus.

Last month, Governor JB Pritzker announced that state health officials would begin using the new groundbreaking test after it was approved for wider use by the FDA.

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"This news puts the University of Illinois and the entire state of Illinois on the cutting edge of testing innovation as a national player," Governor JB Pritzker said during his August announcement.

U of I researchers say it is faster, cheaper and requires significantly less raw materials than traditional testing. The new test can turn results within 3 to 6 hours, which scientists say is contributing to the drop in positivity rates.

Last week, the school ordered students to significantly restrict in-person activities through September 16 over a jump in cases, which U of I said was caught early because of the new testing program.

"Just last weekend, we did have some of our students make some really bad choices, but with fast, frequent testing, we were able to see this early, make corrective actions," said Dr. Martin Burke, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. "And again, the overwhelming majority of our students want to get this right, so they were the strongest drivers of getting their fellow students to really get back into making a difference in a positive way."

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Saliva tests for COVID-19 officially started today for students and staff at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.



Dr. Burke said COVID-19 numbers are coming back down on campus and things are getting back on track.

The test is said to be only $10 a specimen, allowing tests to be done frequently, giving hope to researchers as Illinois cases continue to rise.
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