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Sunday, February 05, 2023
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UB opens new testing lab, introduces different collection method

Quicker turnaround time, testing capacity expansion highlight changes

The new COVID-19 testing lab can process up to 150,000 Clarifi COVID-19 tests per week, a 75% increase from before.
The new COVID-19 testing lab can process up to 150,000 Clarifi COVID-19 tests per week, a 75% increase from before.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the opening of a new COVID-19 testing laboratory located on UB’s south campus Monday.

The new lab can process up to 150,000 Clarifi COVID-19 tests per week, a 75% increase from before. The lab, which is staffed by Quadrant Biosciences and SUNY faculty and student medical research teams, will be able to process tests and return the results to campuses in 24 hours or less, according to Malatras. 

“With vaccine eligibility opening up to college students [Tuesday], we are all looking forward to better, more normal times ahead,” Malatras said in a statement. “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. 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.”

SUNY invested $120,000 on the testing equipment for the lab, which was announced by Malatras at the end of January. The Farber Hall facility enables SUNY to process about 350,000 COVID-19 tests per week, up from 200,000 in March.

“We are so pleased to be hosting Upstate Medical’s COVID-19 testing laboratory at the University at Buffalo,” UB President Satish Tripathi said. “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.”

This week, UB began using the OMNIgene-ORAL collection test from DNA Genotek to collect students’ samples. Unlike before, when students swabbed their mouths with a piece of cotton, they are now required to spit into a collection tube.

The OMNIgene-ORAL method, which collects nucleic acids from saliva, still uses the Clarifi COVID-19 test, so the accuracy isn’t compromised, according to university officials. But, the saliva tests have been prioritized for physicians and clinics to use in COVID-19 testing of children.

As a result, UB has switched to the new collection method.

Since August 2020, SUNY has completed nearly 1.8 million COVID-19 tests, with a positivity rate of less than 0.5%. The positivity rate at UB this semester also has remained relatively low and currently sits at 0.36% from March 27 to April 9. 

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