A COVID-19 test which is less invasive and yields quicker results is being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois.

Students who attend in-person classes at the Champaign-Urbana campus are required to be tested for coronavirus twice a week. But the task of testing 51,000 students and processing that many traditional nasal-swab tests was overwhelming for campus officials.

U of I professor Marty Burke was part of the team that developed the two-stage saliva test.

“We called this our ‘target, test and tell’ initiative, overall collectively described as a ‘Shield.’”

Burke says processing the saliva-based tests is much less vulnerable to the bottlenecking that often occurs with disseminating nasal-swab test results.

“It's a very powerful concept that if we can get to that fast, frequent testing, we really could get control of the situation,” said Burke.

Students are getting the results of the COVID-19 tests within just a few hours, as opposed to waiting several days for traditional test results.

More expedient test results means getting alerted sooner that you've been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

“If someone tests positive then [the] same day that person is isolated,” said Burke. “Which we think is critical for ultimately the efficacy of the testing program.”

The University of Illinois is now seeing approval for its new testing procedure from the Federal Drug Administration.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app