FDA Issues Emergency Authorization to covidSHIELD

By: Sabrina Lee

The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization to the University of Illinois’ saliva-based covid-19 test. This emergency authorization would enable the tests to travel beyond the university system.

The test was developed by researchers at the Urbana-Champaign campus, who formed the SHIELDIllinois team. The SHIELD method has been implemented at all three University of Illinois systems. These efforts have led to the administering of over 1.5 million covid-19 tests across the Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield campuses.

The emergency use authorization issued by the FDA would allow for the covid-19 test, known as covidSHIELD, to be distributed on a much wider scale, and seven high capacity labs across the state of Illinois have been identified in order to help with test distribution and processing. Governor J.B. Pritzker says that he will be dedicating $20 million of CARE Act funding to pay for one million covid tests for public universities across Illinois.

Ben Taylor, spokesperson for SHIELDIllinois, says that demand for covidSHIELD has already increased.

“There’s a lab in Washington D.C. that’s serving Baltimore City Public Schools and a few of the private universities in Washington D.C. area that just launched a couple of weeks ago. So you know that is part of the national rollout strategy if you wanna think about it that way. The University of Wisconsin Madison is using our test. Vanderbilt is using our test. The University of Maine System. So there are a number of schools and companies that are already kind of in line and in the pipeline and we’ve already seen demand really tick up since the announcement on Monday.” said Taylor.

The SHIELDIllinois team applied for authorization from the FDA in December, and they will now see their hard work distributed across the country.