NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mirimus, Inc., a leader in conducting high-volume, high-quality PCR testing, today announced a partnership with the Wellesley Public Schools system in Wellesley, MA, to enable weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing of all staff, high school and middle school students using its pioneering SalivaClear COVID-19 pooled saliva testing platform. The SalivaClear platform is composed of three key elements – saliva-based sampling, pooled testing and gold-standard PCR molecular diagnostics – that, when combined, enable frequent, high-quality, high-throughput, low-cost detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Weekly testing of a portion of Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) staff using SalivaClear began October 13, was expanded to include all staff the following week, and has now been expanded to include all high school and middle school students. Rather than test each individual student and employee separately, a time and resource intensive process, saliva samples are combined, or pooled, to substantially reduce the number of tests.
"We are pleased to be working with Wellesley Public Schools to provide a highly effective, efficient and cost-effective solution to COVID-19 surveillance testing," said Prem Premsrirut, M.D., Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO of Mirimus. "SalivaClear is designed to accomplish what other COVID-19 testing approaches have thus far been unable to achieve – providing a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic system that can be easily and repeatedly utilized by schools, businesses and government organizations to conduct surveillance testing of groups of individuals in order to quickly isolate hotspots before they can become outbreaks and more safely reopen our economy."
Saliva-based sampling is simple, safe and noninvasive, and is just as effective as testing nasal pharyngeal swabs, according to studies conducted by Yale University. Unlike intranasal swabs or blood samples, saliva samples can be easily and painlessly self-collected without the need for needles, nose swabs or medical personnel. Pooled testing entails combining a small volume of saliva (200 microliters) from up to 24 individual samples to create a single specimen for analysis. A diagnostic is then performed on the entire pool. If a positive test occurs, the pool is narrowed into 12 pools of two to pinpoint the positive individual(s).
Through the program, WPS distributes individual SalivaClear collection test kits to each student and staff member. Students and employees then bring their individual samples to school, which are deposited in designated collection areas before being shipped to Mirimus' lab for analysis. At the lab, the individual samples are pooled into groups of 24, after which Mirimus utilizes the FDA Emergency Use Authorized ThermoFisherScientific TaqPathCOVID-19 Combo RT-PCR Kit in a modified method to test each pooled sample. The pooled test results are typically reported to WPS within 12-24 hours of sample receipt at the laboratory. If a test is positive, the pool of 24 is split into 12 pools of two, which are re-tested at the laboratory. If a positive signal emerges from a pool of two, the two individuals would be asked to provide consent for a final test to determine individual positivity.
Dr. Premsrirut continued, "Saliva-based pool testing is able to dramatically reduce the costs of individual COVID-19 RT-PCR testing, while allowing for increased testing frequency due to the ease and efficiency of the sampling and testing process. With our SalivaClear platform, an average of 24 samples costs around $15 per individual tested versus anywhere from $75-$150 for an individually-administered, nasal swab or saliva-based RT-PCR test. As such, a school system like Wellesley Public Schools has the ability to administer COVID-19 tests on a regular basis at a moderate cost, which is essential to monitoring a large and diverse population."
The WPS pilot program is funded through December. The ability of WPS to continue COVID-19 testing and to expand testing to a broader population of students is contingent upon available funding. Donations can be made to the WEF COVID-19 Innovation Fund or the Mobilization Foundation.
About SalivaClear. SalivaClear, developed by Mirimus, Inc., is a pioneering COVID-19 testing platform that combines saliva-based sampling, pooled testing and PCR diagnostics to enable high-quality, high-throughput, low-cost detection of SARS-CoV-2. SalivaClear is designed to accomplish what other COVID-19 testing approaches have thus far been unable to achieve – providing a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic system that can be easily and repeatedly utilized by myriad organizations, from schools to businesses to government organizations, to test (and retest) groups of individuals in order to quickly isolate COVID-19 hotspots before they can become outbreaks. For more information, please visit www.salivaclear.com.
About Mirimus, Inc. Since its founding 10 years ago, Mirimus, Inc. has established itself as a leader in conducting high-volume, complex and highly effective PCR testing. This unique skillset led Mirimus to develop SalivaClear, a COVID-19 testing platform that combines saliva-based sampling, pooled testing and PCR diagnostics to improve the scalability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and accuracy of COVID-19 testing. For more information, please visit www.mirimus.com and www.salivaclear.com.