The 21st Show

A Closer Look at U of I’s Cutting Edge Testing Program


Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

As college students have returned to campuses around Illinois, you may have now heard about the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s expansive testing program, also known as SHIELD. SHIELD was designed to “target, test, and tell” U of I students and staff, and tests are mandatory twice per week. The SHIELD program has received FDA emergency authorization and Governor Pritzker has expressed his hope that the test can eventually be expanded to a state-wide level.

Joining us to talk more about UI's potential testing capability across the nation and to answer questions about the SHIELD porgram is a health reporter, a University of Illinois chemistry professor who helped develop the test, a University of Illinois professor and epidemiologist who was instrumental in developing the testing strategy, and the director of Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at the University of Southern California.


Christine Herman, health reporter for Illinois Newsroom/WILL and Side Effects Public Media

Paul Hergenrother, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the lead developer of University of Illinois' rapid saliva COVID-19 test

Susan Butler-Wu, Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at the University of Southern California

Becky Smith, Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Pathobiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Correction: The University of Illinois' saliva-based test has an 11% false negative rate, according to its own preliminary studies. During the show the potential number of false-negative COVID tests based on that was mischaracterized. If 10,000 tests were analyzed In a place with an infection rate of about 1%, 100 people would be infected. The U. of I. test would be expected to correctly identify 89 people as positive cases, while 11 people would be given false-negative results.


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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