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Chancellor Malatras Announces Opening of SUNY Upstate COVID-19 Testing Laboratory at University of Buffalo to Increase Testing Capacity and Speed

New Lab Increases Testing Capacity by 75% or 150,000 Tests, With Totals Equaling 350,000 Tests per Week across SUNY; Results Returned to Campuses within 24 Hours

SUNY System Invested $120,000 to Purchase Equipment for COVID-19 Test Processing

UB Lab Staffed by Quadrant Biosciences, Partnership with SUNY Faculty and Student Medical Researcher Teams; Facility will Handle Weekly COVID-19 Saliva Testing for all Western New York SUNY Schools

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today the opening of the SUNY Upstate Medical University COVID-19 testing laboratory at the University at Buffalo. The launch of this second lab will allow SUNY to greatly increase both the capacity of tests it can process each week and the speed at which it can generate results. UB can now process approximately 150,000 tests per week—increasing SUNY’s system-wide capacity to roughly 350,000 tests per week. The turnaround time for tests will be 24 hours or less.

SUNY invested $120,000 to purchase equipment for the new lab. The equipment will allow UB to process the Clarifi COVID-19 test that was co-developed by Upstate Medical and partner Quadrant Biosciences, a New York-based molecular diagnostics company. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ranked it the world’s most accurate COVID-19 saliva test. Quadrant Biosciences is also providing additional funding.

Since August 2020, SUNY has completed nearly 1.8 million COVID-19 tests, with a positivity rate of 0.47 percent. Over the past seven days, SUNY has conducted 105,736 tests with a 0.35 percent positivity rate, far lower than the 3.6 percent statewide rate. Students, faculty, and staff on all campuses are required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The UB lab is being staffed by Quadrant Biosciences in partnership with SUNY faculty and student medical researcher teams, who will be handling weekly saliva testing for all SUNY campuses in Western New York.

“With vaccine eligibility opening up to college students tomorrow, we are all looking forward to better, more normal times ahead. However, while we may be rounding third base, we’re not home yet—and routine COVID-19 testing will be pivotal to getting us there safely in the weeks and months to come,” said Chancellor Malatras. “Thanks to Upstate Medical’s world-leading saliva test, SUNY has been at the forefront of monitoring and containing this virus on college campuses. UB’s new, state-of-the-art testing lab further expands our testing capacity and shortens the turnaround time for results—providing further assurance that we can protect students, faculty, staff, and our surrounding communities from COVID-19 until it’s in the rearview for good. I want to thank Upstate Medical President Mantosh Dewan, UB President Satish K. Tripathi, and Quadrant Biosciences CEO Richard Uhlig for their tireless commitment to keeping our campuses safe." 

University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said, “We are so pleased to be hosting Upstate Medical’s COVID-19 testing laboratory at the University at Buffalo. Although we are optimistic about the increasingly robust vaccine distribution and administration, we recognize the very real threat that the virus still poses. As we continue weekly testing of our in-person campus population for COVID-19, while also following our health and safety protocols, this lab helps us build on our commitment to foster a safe and productive learning environment for our university community.”

Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, M.D. said, “Upstate Medical University is thrilled to expand our COVID-19 surveillance testing technology into the University at Buffalo with the help of Quadrant Biosciences. This expansion will increase overall surveillance testing capacity and allow schools in Western New York to be serviced closer to home, ensuring timely results. Strong SUNY alliances have provided many opportunities to create and share during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are proud of our partnership with SUNY, Quadrant and UB.”

 

About SUNY Upstate Medical’s Pooled Surveillance Testing

SUNY can now process 350,000 COVID-19 tests per week thanks to a series of major breakthroughs at Upstate Medical dating back to last summer. Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences developed both an individual saliva test and pool test, which when combined, greatly expand both the number of tests that can be processed and the speed at which results can be generated.

Both are done using saliva rather than swabs inserted in a person's nose.

Individuals administer the tests themselves by swabbing their mouths or collecting saliva in a collection tube. Samples are then given to Upstate Medical and combined into a pool, which is tested for the COVID-19 virus.

A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed to be coronavirus-free at the time of testing.

A positive test for the pool requires each individual saliva sample within the pool to be tested again to pinpoint the positive case or cases. The rapid retesting does not require people in the positive pool to return to submit an entirely new sample. This greatly accelerates the process and expands testing capacity.