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University of Illinois’ SHIELD test could be used at other colleges in Illinois

(The Center Square) – The University of Illinois’ rapid COVID-19 saliva test, also known as SHIELD, is on the wish list of other universities around the state.

According to SHIELD’s website, the saliva test has a specificity between 99.8-99.9% with very false positives. Specificity refers to the proportion of people who are positive for a disease that is diagnosed to be positive.

The president of the U of I, Dr. Thomas Killeen, testified at a Senate Higher Education Hearing on Monday that the test has been highly effective.

“It works because it lets us see where the virus is,” Killeen said. “It looks at the whole iceberg, not just the tip.”

The Illinois State University board of trustees has approved the use of the SHIELD test, but the program has yet to receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

Director of Media Relations at Illinois State University Eric Jome said ISU will use the Shield test this spring once it is approved by the FDA, but if not, the school is prepared.

“We have a whole other regimen of testing in place, ready to go for spring,” Jome said.

Jome said currently, the university offers PCR-based testing, which takes between 3-5 days to produce a result, and antigen testing which produces results in as little as 15 minutes.

Monmouth College plans to go ahead with the SHIELD test. The college has received a $150,000 grant from the Community Health Foundation of Warren and Henderson Counties to buy 5,000 SHIELD tests.

“The college has long been supported by the local community and we are grateful that this broad community support continues to this day,” Monmouth President Clarence Wyatt said. “We are glad this initiative will help mitigate the spread of the virus, especially through peak cold and flu season.”

The FDA has authorized Emergency Use Authorizations to 14 tests with saliva samples around the country, but the U of I is still awaiting approval for its test.

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