Rako Science announced today that it had collected more than 2,000 saliva samples and processed them at its contracted medical testing laboratory in Auckland.
Rako Science’s mission is to provide asymptomatic COVID testing at scale and, with the capacity to conduct 10,000 tests daily, it is ramping up its operations. It currently has nine sample collection sites in Auckland.
“We have built sophisticated operational and data systems based on the University of Illinois protocols and we haven’t had any problems collecting or processing samples.” Rako chief science director, Dr Stephen Grice said.
“All results have been reported within 24 hours of sample collection. Samples collected before midday are reported late afternoon the same day and samples collected in the afternoon are reported around the middle of the following day,” Dr Grice said.
Many other saliva protocols have had problems overcoming inhibitory factors which can lead to invalid results.
“Not only is the Rako qPCR saliva test at least as accurate as a nasal swab test, it is not affected by inhibitory factors like many other saliva protocols are. This gives us real confidence in the robustness of the protocol and its usefulness, even in countries like New Zealand that are executing an elimination strategy.”
Rako Science’s test, developed by the University of Illinois, was validated by two independent New Zealand laboratories, and accredited in New Zealand in December 2020. It has recently achieved FDA Emergency Use Authorisation in the United States of America. The laboratory performing the saliva testing is the only one in New Zealand currently accredited by IANZ to do so.
“In our work with University of Illinois we were impressed with their test protocol and their collection and processing systems. They have conducted nearly 1.6 million tests on a 46,000-person campus.
“University of Illinois Professors Martin Burke and Paul Hergenrother and their teams made key discoveries about how to process saliva samples to ensure accurate results. They developed an end-to-end collection and processing system which is cost effective and easily scalable.
“We will continue to deliver on our mission to help keep New Zealanders safe from COVID-19,” Dr Grice said.
Note: Inhibitory factors can include saliva sample viscosity, degradative enzymes, food particles and other substances.