Frequently Asked Questions

Test & Testing Procedure

Who are Rako Science?


Rako Science provides saliva-based COVID-19 surveillance testing at scale to protect New Zealand workers, businesses and vulnerable communities, and pre-departure PCR testing to international passengers leaving New Zealand.




How many amplifications are made to saliva samples to determine Rako Science's results?


Rako Science's COVID-19 test runs for 40 amplification cycles.




How accurate is the Rako Science saliva test and has it been accredited and validated in New Zealand?


Rako Science PCR COVID-19 testing is IANZ accredited (accreditation No. 987 IGENZ Ltd.) and is the only diagnostically validated PCR saliva test in New Zealand. Rako Science licensed their saliva protocol directly from developers at the University of Illinois in September 2020. Rako Science contracted Auckland based IANZ-accredited ISO15189 laboratory IGENZ and worked together to diagnostically validate the Rako Science test to an ISO15189 standard in December 2020. In January 2021 IGENZ achieved IANZ accreditation. For clarity, all Rako Science Travel Certificates display the IGENZ logo and accreditation details in the top left corner.




How sensitive is the Rako Science test?


The sensitivity of the Rako Science saliva test is 97.0% when compared to nasopharyngeal swabs as the reference. If you invert the comparison and use Rako Science's saliva test as the reference, the nasopharyngeal swabs have a sensitivity of 97.0%. This demonstrates Rako’s saliva test has equal sensitivity to nasopharyngeal swabs.




What type of test is the Rako Science saliva test?


The Rako Science saliva test is an RT-qPCR test, a nucleic acid amplification technique which Rako Science have adapted for the specific detection of SARS-CoV-2 only. The Rako Science test is not a rapid saliva-based antigen test, and is instead processed in the same way as a nasopharyngeal swab.




How was the Rako Science saliva test created?


The Rako Science saliva test was designed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign scientists Martin Burke, Paul Hergenrother, Timothy Fan, Fadi Alnaji, Christopher Brooke, Kelsie Green, Robin Holland, Diana Rose Ranoa, and Leyi Wang. They created a testing and mitigation strategy called covidSHIELD. Rako’s test is the only diagnostically validated COVID-19 PCR saliva test in New Zealand, complete with IANZ accreditation ( accreditation No. 987 IGENZ Ltd.).




What is the difference between a nasopharyngeal (nasal) swab and the Rako Science saliva test?


When COVID-19 first arrived, a test to detect it was needed almost immediately. The nasopharyngeal swab was soon adopted as the gold standard. Pre-COVID-19, saliva had been used to detect other respiratory viruses with success, so a New Zealand researcher at Yale University, Dr Anne Wyllie, who had experience of using saliva to detect other respiratory viruses, used her knowledge to test saliva for SARS-COV-2. What she, and subsequently others found, was that SARS-COV-2 was also present in high titres in saliva, allowing detection of SARS-COV-2 and sometimes before it was even detectable by a nasal swab.




Can the Rako Science saliva test accurately detect COVID-19 before the onset of infectiousness?


The Rako Science validation study identified that the limit of detection is as low as >1 viral particle per microlitre and demonstrated good performance with positive samples of low viral load. This sensitivity makes it particularly useful for early detection of SARS-CoV-2 for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic patients before the onset of infectiousness. An infectious person has about 1000 viral copies of SARS-CoV-2 per microlitre of saliva, equivalent to one thousandth of a millilitre. Our test can measure one copy in this volume. It is as sensitive as the standard nasopharyngeal test. We found this test is sensitive enough to measure asymptomatic people well before they become infectious.




What steps have Rako Science taken to safeguard against infection and cross contamination at collection sites?


Health and safety standard operating procedures are in place for infection control and are reviewed regularly by our science team. Hand sanitisation points are provided for both staff and clients, and appropriate PPE gear is worn by all our staff. Our collection sites are designed so that no one will touch your sample, and sites are frequently cleaned and sanitised. Everyone who enters a collection site is encouraged to use the NZ COVID Tracer App.




Is this test avaliable for people who are unwell, have COVID-19 symptoms, are close contacts or have been in a location of interest?


Our testing is for asymptomatic individuals only. We are unable to test close contacts, people who have been in a location of interest, or anyone who is unwell or has any reason to believe they may have COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are feeling unwell, we encourage you to seek professional medical attention immediately and follow all Ministry of Health guidelines.




How do clients provide a saliva sample?


Rako Science collection sites are designed to make providing a sample quick and easy. After check-in, where identity is confirmed, clients are provided with a teaspoon to drool into and produce 1.5ml of saliva to tip into a plastic tube. It is a quick, simple, painless process and after hand sanitisation, you are free to go.




Where can we get this test in New Zealand?


Rako Science have locations across Auckland, Waikato and Wellington and will soon be available nationwide via selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies.




What if the result is postive for COVID-19?


COVID-19 is a notifiable disease. If a positive result is confirmed in the laboratory, Rako Science will immediately advise the Regional Medical Officer of Health and your GP (when known) to ensure you get the health support you require as soon as possible.




Why is Rako Science offering this service?


Until COVID-19 ceases to disrupt our lifestyles, our travel and our business operations, testing will be needed across New Zealand. Rako Science has been testing workplaces since January 2021 to prevent pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic infected people from spreading COVID-19 in the workplace. We also recognise there is a need for international passengers departing New Zealand and are proud to provide Kiwis with PCR Travel Certificates.




Will you use the saliva test for any other purposes?


Your sample provided will not be used for any purpose beyond identifying COVID-19, and Rako Science’s laboratory procedure is not set-up to identify any other illness or substance. We store all COVID-19 saliva samples, as required by law, for seven days before they are permanently destroyed. If your COVID-19 saliva-test result is positive the sample will be controlled by the Regional Medical Officer of Health and you have all rights of privacy that the New Zealand health system provides. View our privacy policy.




What happens at the laboratory?


On arrival at the lab, each saliva sample is scanned in to maintain a secure chain of custody. Then a small amount of the saliva sample is processed by robots and transferred to a RT-qPCR machine which identifies whether the virus is present or not. We store all COVID-19 saliva samples, as required by law, for seven days before they are permanently destroyed.




Can I eat, drink or smoke before giving a sample?


Clients cannot eat, use tobacco products, vape, brush their teeth, chew gum, use mouth wash or drink anything other than water in the 60 minutes before providing a sample. Being well-hydrated makes it easier to provide a saliva sample, but no water should be ingested in the 30 minutes immediately prior to your test. Not following these guidelines will cause contaminents in your saliva, which mean our laboratory can’t process your test.




Can young children be tested?


Rako Science has collected samples from children as young as 18 months old. Please contact us to learn about how we can assist testing children in your care.




Does the Rako Science saliva test detect new strains of the virus?


The international organisation providing Rako Science with assays for our laboratory have confirmed that our reagents are effective against the new, more infectious strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.




How long will the actual test take?


Providing a saliva sample at any of our locations can take as little as 5 minutes. We recomend allowing 15-30 minutes for your appointment.




Who will I see at a Rako Science collection site?


At all Rako Science collection sites you will be greeted by our friendly staff wearing PPE. Before your test, our staff will explain our test procedure to you and answer any questions you may have.




How should I prepare before giving a sample?


All clients must follow the guidelines received via email prior to their tests. Clients cannot eat, use tobacco products, vape, brush their teeth, chew gum, use mouth wash or drink anything other than water in the 60 minutes before providing a sample. Being well-hydrated makes it easier to provide a saliva sample, but no water should be ingested in the 30 minutes immediately prior to your test. Not following these guidelines will cause contaminents in your saliva, which mean our laboratory can’t process your test. If your appointment is for a pre-departure PCR Travel Certificate, be sure to bring the passport you are travelling on to your appointment too.




I need assistance accessing Rako Science collection sites or providing my saliva sample. What do I do?


We are here to help. Some of our clients require assistance accessing our collection sites or providing a saliva sample, and our friendly team are trained to take your lead on what support they provide to you. If you would like to notify us in advance of any additional support you will require, please contact us on info@rakoscience.com.




Is the test painful or invasive?


The Rako Science saliva test is non-invasive, painless and suitable for young children and those with special needs.




Is the Rako Science saliva test as accurate as a nasal swab?


The Rako Science test is at least as accurate as a nasopharyngeal test. Our test is a PCR test which uses a nucleic acid amplification technique. In technical terms, our test it is referred to as an RT-qPCR test.




What type of New Zealand businesses and organisations work with Rako Science?


Rako Science is currently providing COVID-19 surveillance testing to national service providers and manufacturers, multiple major international film production companies and a wide range of small to medium sized businesses. We are also proud suppliers to the New Zealand Olympic Team for pre-departure COVID-19 testing.




Is Rako Science saliva available to the New Zealand public?


Unfortunately, Rako Science saliva testing is not funded for the public by Ministry of Health. We are currently providing our services privately to pre-departure passengers, and organisations requiring surveillance testing.





PCR Travel Certificates

When should I book my PCR Travel Certificate test?


COVID-19 testing requirements are different for every destination and airline, and can change at short notice. We recommend booking your PCR Travel Certificate test appointment once you are confident you are aware of your airline, layover destination and final destination's requirements and can be sure that your chosen appointment date and time is compliant with all.




Where do I go if I need an Urgent Test?


Urgent Tests are available at our Auckland CBD site between 7am-8:30am Monday-Saturday. Standard Tests are not available at this location. Results for Urgent Tests normally take 6 hours.




I have multiple passports. Which one should I use when booking my appointment?


Please book your appointment under the passport you will present to airline and border authorities. If you may need to present more than one passport throughout your travel, please contact us at least 24 hours before your appointment.




I am unsure what my travel requirements are. What should I do?


COVID-19 testing requirements are different for every destination and airline, and can change at short notice. We recommend confirming these directly with your airlines or travel agent and with your destination/s dedicated webpages for incoming passengers. Star Alliance and IATA Travel Centre websites may be of help.




How fast will I get my results?


Our Standard Test provides results within 24 hours and our Urgent Test provides results within 6-12 hours. Bookings can be made online here.




Can I get tested at Auckland International Airport?


Yes. Clients may visit us with or without appointments during our open hours Ground Floor Kiosk opposite Zone E, Auckland International Airport Māngere, Auckland 2022.




What countries are currently accepting the certificate?


Our PCR Travel Certificates are successfully used at airline check-in and airport arrivals for international travellers to Asia, Europe and the USA.




Are Rako Science PCR Travel Certificates internationally recognised?


Our PCR Travel Certificates are internationally recognised. They include QR codes allowing airlines and border authorities to verify authenticity online and are successfully used at airline check-in and airport arrivals for international travellers to Asia, Europe and the USA.




Do Rako Science PCR Travel Certificates include QR codes?


Our PCR Travel Certificates include QR codes allowing airlines and border authorities to verify authenticity online.




Can I get an original signed copy of my Travel Report?


Rako Science can provide original signed copies of PCR Travel Certificates. When you arrive for your test, please advise our staff if you require an original signed copy. They will make arrangements for you to collect this from our Auckland International Airport site.




How much are Rako Science PCR Travel Certificates?


Standard Tests are $250 and Urgent Tests are $325.




What does the cost of my PCR Travel Certificate cover?


Rako Science offers a premium service, with a guaranteed turnaround time. We operate 7 days a week, have an online booking system and customer service team for our client’s ease and peace of mind, friendly collection site staff at each of our seven locations, our own courier service for the transporting of all samples, and a team in our IGENZ laboratory who work solely on COVID-19 saliva samples. It is this team of staff and our wider business processes that allow us to offer all Kiwis a guaranteed turnaround time for their PCR Travel Certificates.




Do I need a hard copy PCR Travel Certificate?


COVID-19 testing requirements are different for every destination and airline, and can change at short notice. We recommend confirming whether you require a hard copy PCR Travel Certificate with your airlines or travel agent and with your destination/s dedicated online information for incoming international passengers.




Where can I book my PCR Travel Certificate?


Rako Science has locations across Auckland, Waikato and Wellington, and will soon be available nation-wide via selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies. Appointments can be booked online here.




Do I need to book an appointment for my PCR Travel Certificate?


We recommend booking online to ensure we have capacity to complete your test. If you are unable to book online, please call 0800 122 355 and our friendly team will let you know whether we have availability at your preferred location and how to make payment upon arrival.




Is there an international standard for testing certificates?


Our PCR Travel Certificates are internationally recognised. They include QR codes allowing airlines and border authorities to verify authenticity online and are successfully used at airline check-in and airport arrivals for international travellers to Asia, Europe and the USA.





Surveillance Testing

What is surveilence testing?


Rako Science provides surveillance testing at scale to protect New Zealand workers, businesses and vulnerable communities to prevent pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic infected people from spreading COVID-19.




Do Rako Science offer surveillance testing for New Zealand businesses?


Rako Science has been testing workplaces since January 2021 to prevent pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic infected people from spreading COVID-19 in the workplace. Rako Science is delivering tailored solutions for some of New Zealand’s biggest organisations in a broad range of industries. Please contact us on info@rakoscience.com to discuss your organisation's needs.




What type of businesses should consider surveillance testing for their employees?


Surveillance testing is particularly beneficial to businesses providing essential services, businesses with regular customer contact, and businesses heavily disrupted by lockdowns. Rako Science is currently providing COVID-19 testing to Genesis Energy, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Air New Zealand, Waipareira Trust, multiple major international film production companies and a wide range of small to medium sized businesses. Please contact us on info@rakoscience.com to discuss your organisation's needs.