Middlesex County to offer saliva COVID-19 tests believed to be faster, easier and safer

Middlesex County will offer the first saliva-based COVID-19 test to the public on a mass scale — tests that can provide results in 24-48 hours, the county announced Monday.

The county, in partnership with RUCDR Infinite Biologics, RWJBarnabas Health and Accurate Diagnostic Labs, will begin offering the tests Wednesday to county residents only. They will be available to county residents in a drive-through setting, and will be given at no cost to local first responders and residents.

The saliva tests will be available at Kilmer Vehicle Inspection at 33 Kilmer Road in Edison on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Middlesex County residents that have symptoms and would like to be tested should visit Middlesexcountynj.gov/COVID19testing to register and receive a time to report to the testing site.

Registrants must bring the completed registration form and proof of residency including, but not limited to: a valid driver’s license; state-issued identification; or two pieces of mail including utility bills, bank statements or similar documentation with name and address, to the testing site, county officials said.

The saliva test, introduced recently by RUCDR and ADL, is newly approved by the Food & Drug Administration. It is considered a breakthrough because of its shorter turnaround times as well as its ability to do a high volume of tests. Officials say they could do as many as 10,000 tests a day.

The saliva test is believed to have several significant advantages over the nasal or throat swab test, including the used of less personal protection equipment required during collection — not to mention a simpler method of collection (just spit and seal).

Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ron Rios said the county’s advanced infrastructure and operational capabilities, deep workforce and talent pool of health care professionals, as well as key partnerships including cutting-edge life sciences companies and health care providers, made it uniquely positioned to provide the resources to immediately mobilize and manage a drive-through testing environment.

“We are proud of our deep partnerships with RUCDR and Accurate Labs as well as RWJBarnabas Health, who have been on the frontline of this fight against COVID-19 in New Jersey,” Rios said in a statement. “Middlesex County has built the operations and infrastructure from the ground up to enable us to utilize our extensive partnerships to provide innovative solutions to our community of first responders and residents. Thankfully, we have a rare advantage in such a critical time to be able to rapidly deploy increased testing capabilities and accelerated results, while protecting our frontline workers.”

Rios hopes the state-of-the-art drive-thru model can set a benchmark for testing in the state.

Andrew Brooks, the chief operating officer and director of technology development for RUCDR Infinite Biologics, called the test a “game-changing” response, offering both time and cost efficiencies.

“With this breakthrough, we have the ability to track and trace infected individuals faster, ultimately mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “Moreover, the sheer volume of specimens to be collected will aid in the development of a vaccine and new therapies.”

The saliva testing method is based on a Nobel Prize-winning laboratory technique that makes millions of copies of the SARS-CoV-2 virus nucleic acid (in this case, RNA) in a sample. This test is being offered through FDA EUA#200090 and can be found here.

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