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FDA approves Upstate Medical’s saliva swab COVID-19 test for wider use

The New York State Department of Health has awarded Upstate Medical University a grant of $1.25 million so its Central/Eastern New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center can continue its work as a lead-resource center. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency-use authorization for the individual saliva swab diagnostic test for COVID-19 that SUNY Upstate Medical University and Quadrant Biosciences Inc. developed.

Quadrant Biosciences is based in Syracuse.

So far, this test has been used to support SUNY’s widespread testing of students across campuses, but the emergency use authorization will help additional labs begin to use this test, “helping pinpoint and contain” the virus and protect New Yorkers, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.


FDA approval of this “game-changing” COVID-19 test demonstrates the ingenuity of the State University of New York to solve pressing issues, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras contended.

“With this approval the innovation developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences will be leveraged on a national scale. This quick, noninvasive testing protocol — which has already boosted SUNY’s testing capacity to 120,000 tests per week — will now help communities across the country better pinpoint and contain COVID-19,” Malatras said.

“This is indeed a game-changer,” Dr. Mantosh Dewan, interim president of SUNY Upstate Medical University, said. “We have seen the benefits of this testing here in New York state as we have used it to test significant numbers of individuals quickly and safely to keep our communities, and in the case of our current testing work, local school districts and college campuses safe.”

The FDA-authorized saliva test for individuals complements Upstate Medical’s and Quadrant’s pool testing, which allows for about 10 to 25 people to be screened in one COVID-19 test. The FDA’s approval of the test means it can be brought to scale across New York state as well as used nationwide.

The approved tests can be conducted using saliva swabs rather than swabs inserted in a person’s nose. Individuals administer the tests themselves, swabbing their mouths, and provide the saliva samples, which are currently processed at SUNY Upstate Medical Center’s laboratory.



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