USF studies coronavirus pool testing

By The Numbers

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Researchers at the University of South Florida are studying an innovative new testing method for coronavirus.

More than 300 of the university’s student-athletes and athletics department staff members will be tested to study the feasibility of pool COVID-19 testing in an effort to mitigate the spread of the illness.

Each week during the fall semester, within 72 hours of a game, participants will be tested for coronavirus.

“Finding a timely and affordable solution that matched our conference protocols was critical for us to move forward with our athletic department plans for this academic year,” USF Athletics Vice President Michael Kelly said. “We are grateful to our partners at USF Health for identifying and implementing this progressive solution. Simply put, they have been amazing.”

Using saliva samples and pooling participants in groups of four, research will be held at USF laboratories following conversations with the FDA.  

If a pooled test is positive, the participants will be asked to get tested by one of the certified testing sites near USF.  

“This SARS-CoV-2 feasibility pool-testing research project is a very innovative endeavor that supports our student-athletes’ desires to continue competing in as safe a manner as possible,” said principal investigator Kevin Sneed. “It also displays the interdisciplinary translational research prowess of USF and positions us to expand this testing process to the broader USF campus community.”

Last month, data collection found that USF had the eighth-highest number of cases among college campuses across the country, with 182 cases, after Florida’s Board of Governors approved reopening plans for USF.

“The health and safety of the university community will remain our highest priority as we move forward,” USF President Steven Currall said following the approval. “USF is fortunate to have world-class public health and medical experts among our faculty to help us through this process, a benefit not every university in the state or nation has available to them.”

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