Low-Cost Pooled Testing Critical for Safe Reopening; PRL Genome Sequencing Enables Key Variant Tracking
April 13, 2021—Two of the nation’s leading companies in the fight against COVID-19 — the Pandemic Response Lab (PRL) and CIC Health — today announced they are partnering to provide COVID-19 pooled testing for schools across the country. Low-cost school pooled testing is critical as children, teachers, and staff return to in-person learning.
Under the partnership, CIC Health will help schools implement the testing program from soup to nuts, providing the necessary materials, training, coordination, logistics, and support. PRL, operated by Opentrons Labworks Inc., will conduct the back-end lab work, including pooled testing for COVID-19 and genome sequencing of positive pool results to track variants.
The Pandemic Response Lab, based in Brooklyn, NY, is a leading lab capable of simultaneous school COVID-19 pooled testing, variant tracking, and individual testing. CIC Health of Cambridge, Mass., is a leading provider of testing services to U.S. schools and the largest operator of the Massachusetts statewide school testing program. The company also currently operates three mass vaccination sites in partnership with the State.
This new partnership comes on the heels of the Biden administration’s recent announcement that “the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will invest $10 billion from the American Rescue Plan to ramp up screening testing to help schools reopen, with $2.25 billion allocated to scale up testing in underserved populations.”
“Today’s announcement is a major step toward getting students back into classrooms across the country,” said Jonathan Brennan-Badal, CEO of Opentrons Labworks, Inc. “Working hand-in-hand with our partners at CIC Health, the Pandemic Response Lab will provide schools with the pooled testing and variant tracking necessary to reopen. We are incredibly excited to bring these capabilities nationwide.”
“We are very excited to have Pandemic Response Lab join our nationwide network of first-class laboratories,” said Tim Rowe, CEO and co-founder of CIC Health. “PRL/Opentrons is a leader in innovative lab automation that makes low-cost, high-speed COVID-19 testing possible. With this new partnership, we are one step closer to the promise of safer in-person learning in America’s schools — a key part of making families safer and enabling parents to get back to work.”
As the country’s schools return to in-person learning, the source-pooled testing methodology employed by CIC Health and PRL is the lowest-cost method available to test students, faculty, and support staff to quickly determine where COVID-19 may be present. When positive individuals are identified, follow-up rapid contact tracing and mitigation steps are taken to isolate positive individuals and contain virus spread.
CIC Health’s in-school collection model is designed to minimize disruption of the school day by making it possible to complete sample collection for the entire school in a matter of minutes. Results are generally returned early in the day after samples are collected. Importantly, CIC Health’s pooled testing does not require collecting and storing private health information in its computer systems — an approach that many parents and school districts appreciate.
Using Opentrons’s advanced robotics technology, PRL provides fast and accurate COVID-19 testing at a low cost to government agencies, hospitals, businesses, and schools. PRL also conducts large-scale virus genome sequencing to track COVID-19 variants and identify potentially dangerous new mutations.
PRL has launched four national COVID-19 testing hubs to help children safely return to the classroom — its original lab in New York City, its new lab in Washington, D.C., and additional new labs opening soon in Los Angeles, CA, and Seattle, WA. PRL currently conducts 30,000 to 50,000 PCR tests every day at its New York City lab, with capacity increasing to more than 500,000 tests per day as it opens more labs around the country. PRL’s work has been highlighted by CBS This Morning, WNBC New York, New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
CIC Health has facilitated more than 1.5 million COVID-19 tests — largely in schools – and the administration of over 500,000 vaccine doses. Its work has been highlighted by CBS News, FOX News, NPR, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
ABOUT PANDEMIC RESPONSE LAB
PRL’s testing is:
-- Highly accurate: Up to 25% more sensitive than industry benchmark PCR tests.
-- Fast: 99% of PCR results are provided in 24 hours or less, compared to the 48- to 72- hour industry average.
-- Affordable: PRL offers its partners a range of volume-based testing solutions, including $25 per pool test of up to 25 students, or just $1 per child – costing up to 50% less than the national average.
-- Proven technology: PRL has already processed more than 2.6 million tests for the people of New York since October 2020 and is now testing between 125,000 and 250,000 students and educators each month.
PRL’s testing process is not dependent on any single vendor’s kit, reagents, primers or probes, making the process less vulnerable to supply chain squeezes, and making its operations more resilient.
Opentrons specializes in manufacturing innovative robotics automation solutions for health care. Its products are used in more than 3,000 labs in over 40 countries.
ABOUT CIC HEALTH
CIC Health has innovated to make COVID-19 testing accessible, fast, and easy, becoming one of the largest testing services providers in the country.
As of April 6, 2021, CIC Health:
-- Facilitated more than 1.5 million COVID-19 tests
-- Conducts testing in 20 states
-- Operates 37 public testing sites in New England
— Managed the administration of more than 500,000 vaccine doses
CIC Health is the largest provider of school testing in the largest statewide testing program in the U.S. (Massachusetts), serving over 160,000 students, faculty, and staff.
In total, CIC Health directly provides testing services to more than 600 schools.
CIC Health’s nationwide network of labs includes such CLIA-certified labs as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Massachusetts, the University of Minnesota Genomics Center, Poplar Healthcare in Tennessee, and Helix Diagnostics in Michigan.
To learn more about PRL, visit PandemicResponseLab.com.
To learn more about CIC Health, visit CIC-Health.com.