Testing has been a key part of managing the spread of Covid-19. And a PCR test developed at Yale is helping manage costs and keep things moving in labs across the globe.
Dr. Anne Wyllie, a research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, sat down with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran to talk about the SalivaDirect test and how it's been helping fight back against the coronavirus.
Dan: "So Dr. Wyllie, thanks for being here. First, remind our viewers what SalivaDirect is and what it does."
Dr. Wyllie: "Yes, definitely. So SalivaDirect is a PCR test for the detection of the SARS CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19."
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Dan: "Just this week, a pretty big development for your team. SalivaDirect was authorized by the FDA for use with something called pooled saliva samples. So what is that? And how could that actually help streamline the process when it comes to Covid testing?"
Dr. Wyllie: "So pool testing is actually when you take multiple different samples. So say, samples from every child in the class, you put them together into one single sample, and you run that one single sample containing all of the individual samples through the test. If a pool is negative, then everyone in that pool is counted to be negative for the virus. If a pool comes back positive, you'd then only have to retest those samples in that positive pool individually. So this is a way to, as I said, increase samples to go through the testing. But it also helps to decrease costs. So it makes this ongoing testing much more sustainable so that we can have, just so that we can really monitor the health of our communities for longer."
Dan: "It's really interesting. Now, since the development of SalivaDirect, this test has been administered more than 2 million times in the US, tell us about how it feels to be part of this bigger fight, and hopefully ending this pandemic."
Dr. Wyllie: "Yeah, it's been incredible. So indeed, we are in 142 lab sites in 39 states across the country, and have also been independently validated in a number of countries around the world. So it's, it's really just been inspiring. I had no idea the response that we would receive. But what's even more inspiring is just how many people have come together through all of this, how many people are so willing to, you know, talk about the price of tests, get test costs down, but then also just collaborate. I'm really just hoping that if we can continue this level of collaboration that we've seen, you know, we're going to see ourselves out of this pandemic. But I think it's also a really interesting time for the future of clinical diagnostic testing and our overall health of communities that we can continue to collaborate at such a level."