Cambridge-based biomedical research center providing COVID tests to more than 100 universities

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Local schools are ramping up testing measures and taking extra precautions as college students return to campus for the fall semester.

Lab technicians are working as fast as they can to crank out COVID-19 test results for college students in a massive initiative to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

“We’ve been receiving between 40 and 60 thousand swabs from the aggregate schools each day. And we’re testing those and getting results back to those schools within 24 hours of receiving the samples in our lab,” Broad Institute Senior Director Niall Lennon said.

It is a monumental undertaking for the Cambridge-based biomedical research center that is now providing regular testing for students, faculty and staff at Harvard, Northeastern, UMass Amherst and more than 100 other colleges and universities in New England and New York State.

“So far, what we’ve observed is actually a low rate so, less than .1 percent positive rate among all of the tests we’ve been doing so far,” Lennon said. “So that’s actually encouraging.”

Most of the students and faculty are tested twice a week — at a cost of $25 a test.

“The student or faculty member swabs the inside of their nose and then puts that swab into a tube,” he explained “and then a fleet of couriers essentially will, every day at the end of collection, come and collect all of those swabs and bring them our location in Cambridge.”

The Broad Institute also provides COVID testing for senior care facilities and high-risk communities in the Bay State.

“Testing is really important because to make smart decisions about your community, whatever your institution or locality is you really need to have the data,” Lennon said.

The institute has completed more than a million COVID tests since March and said it will continue to provide testing as long as it’s needed.


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