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University of Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva test gets FDA authorization

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CHAMPAIGN (HOI) -- University of Illinois' saliva-based COVID-19 testing model has been granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

The move was announced Monday by UofI officials, with Gov. JB Pritzker saying he is releasing $20 million in CARES Act funding to provide 1 million of these tests to other public universities and colleges throughout Illinois.

Related: University of Illinois’ saliva test could allow colleges to go on offense against Covid-19

As of Monday, 1.5 million saliva tests under the covidSHIELD program have been administered at UofI's campuses at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

The test requires a deposit of saliva and results are provided within 24 hours of the sample reaching a covidSHIELD lab.

The system has created two units to share the testing protocol: SHIELD Illinois, which focuses on expansion within the state, and Shield T3, a university-related organization deploying the saliva test outside of Illinois.

“Interest in Shield T3 and requests for our help have been pouring in from around the globe,” said Bill Jackson, interim executive director of the Discovery Partners Institute, who works closely with the separate Shield T3 unit. “This important step simplifies the process of setting up labs and gives our partners added assurance.”

The million tests will be allocated based on a formula developed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Each university has determined how it will handle COVID-19 testing for the spring semester, as was the case during the fall, but SHIELD Illinois provides a proven option.

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