Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY Surpasses Two Million COVID-19 Tests Conducted for Students, Faculty, and Staff Since the Beginning of the Fall 2020 Semester

April 19, 2021

Weekly Testing of All SUNY Students, Faculty, and Staff on Campus Helps Pinpoint Cases and Manage COVID-19 Cases Quickly

COVID-19 Positivity on SUNY Campuses at 0.45% Since the Fall 2020 Semester; Seven-Day Rolling Average at 0.23%

SUNY’s COVID-19 Tracker is Here; Photos from the 2020-2021 SUNY COVID-19 Testing Program Here

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that SUNY surpassed two million COVID-19 tests conducted for students, faculty, and staff on its colleges and universities since the start of the Fall 2020 semester when SUNY put in place a mandatory testing protocol on every campus. The mandatory weekly testing allows campuses to quickly pinpoint and manage cases to limit potential for spread. In particular, SUNY Upstate Medical’s number one ranked salvia tests detect asymptomatic cases, greatly helping campuses in the detection. The positivity rate for the 2020-21 academic year to date is just 0.45 percent, proof that students are steadfast in complying with strict health and safely protocols across SUNY. The current seven-day rolling average rate is lower still at 0.23 percent. SUNY’s COVID-19 Tracker is updated in real-time and is linked here.

SUNY’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing program was implemented in early September 2020, following approval of Upstate Medical University’s saliva test by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Each SUNY campus has set up testing sites staffed by volunteers to collect samples and the majority send them to Upstate and Quadrant for analysis at either the first laboratory at the Syracuse location or at the newest lab at University at Buffalo.

“In our fight against the potential spread of COVID-19 across our campuses, we have two major advantages—our students and their endurance to continue keeping each other safe, and our excellence in research that has brought forth the number one saliva test in the world,” said Chancellor Malatras. “SUNY has kept its doors open thanks to both, and as we reflect on what has been a very different college experience—with much learned—we look forward to rebuilding life on campus for the fall. I applaud our students, faculty, and staff for all that they have done throughout these difficult months, and for campus leadership in placing their health and safety above all else. And, many thanks to Upstate Medical President Dewan, Dr. Middleton, and the collective brilliance that is Upstate Medical.”

Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, MD, said, “Upstate Medical University is proud have played such an integral role in reaching this milestone. With Dr. Frank Middleton’s #1 FDA-ranked saliva test for COVID-19, SUNY has processed two million COVID-19 tests—more than 1.4 million of those tests have been processed at Upstate Medical University. Everyone at Upstate takes great pride in the critical role we have all played in our collective fight against the COVID pandemic and in our service to SUNY.”

Upstate Medical University Dr. Frank Middleton said, “I’m proud to be a part of the Upstate team of experts that has worked so hard to stop the spread of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. From COVID testing to treatment and patient care to vaccines, Upstate’s work has been exemplary as we’ve all been driven toward one common goal—defeating this virus.”

Quadrant Biosciences Founder and CEO Richard Uhlig said, “We are honored and humbled to be a part of this critically important milestone. The development of the Clarifi COVID-19 test kit and the design and scaling of the infrastructure necessary to facilitate over two million tests, would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our Quadrant staff, the fantastic working partnership with Upstate Medical University, and the great support and guidance we receive regularly from President Mantosh Dewan.”

About SUNY Upstate Medical’s Pooled Surveillance Testing

SUNY is able to conduct more than 350,000 tests weekly this semester thanks to a series of major breakthroughs last year at SUNY Upstate Medical with Quadrant Biosciences, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the New York State Department of Health. The COVID-19 testing program involves an individual saliva test combined with a state-approved pooled testing protocol, and continues to be cost-effective for SUNY to test weekly all students, faculty, and staff on campuses.

The Upstate Media and Quadrant saliva test is number one worldwide. The FDA reviews COVID-19 tests based on the effectiveness of finding the smallest traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences Clarifi COVID-19 Test falls into the saliva testing category and has the best (lowest) Limit of Detection at 600 copies of the virus per milliter. Tests with lower LoDs are better able to detect infections at the earliest stages when individuals may be infectious, but asymptomatic. The Clarifi COVID-19 test is among the most sensitive in any category—only five others are more so currently.

The saliva test is easy to use, as individuals administer it by themselves by spitting into a tube rather than have a medical professional insert a swab into their nose.

The saliva samples are sent to Upstate and Quadrant labs for analysis. A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free.

A positive test for the pool would mean each individual saliva sample within the pool would need to be tested again individually to pinpoint exact positive cases. The rapid retesting does not require people in the positive pool to return to submit an entirely new sample. This greatly accelerates the process and expands testing capacity.

 

About The State University of New York

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide were more than $1.0 billion in fiscal year 2020, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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