CHICAGO (CBS) — The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the covidSHIELD saliva test developed at the University of Illinois

It was used on U of I campuses “to hold the virus in check by utilizing widespread testing with rapid results.”

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Under the guidelines, the University of Illinois system can expand the covidSHIELD test to other colleges and universities.

“The University of Illinois has been a national leader in innovation for decades, and the campus’ groundbreaking work to develop rapid, saliva-based COVID-19 testing is but the latest example of that tradition,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “Widespread testing remains a critical tool in combating this pandemic, and I’m dedicating $20 million in CARES Act funding to provide one million tests to Illinois’ other public universities under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.”

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The $20 million in CARES Act funding released by Pritzker will provide a million tests across Illinois’ 12 public universities and 48 community colleges, under an agreement between the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U of I System.

“Today’s EUA is a game changer in our efforts to combat COVID-19 across Illinois and the United States,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “When the pandemic struck, the University of Illinois answered the call — and this rapid, low-cost saliva-testing program could be the key to dramatically expanding our testing infrastructure. I’m proud to stand with the remarkable work of U of I’s scientists and researchers, and I’m thankful for their efforts to improve our public health.”

U of I System President Tim Killeen said the system is eager to share its test.

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“We were created to serve the needs of our state and our nation – to help steer through challenges and lead the way to progress,” Killeen said. “It is a role we have filled with distinction during the COVID-19 crisis, and this expansion of our breakthrough saliva-based testing will be a real game changer, protecting lives and livelihoods.”

According to the University of Illinois, covidSHIELD has drawn interest since it was launched at the university in 2020.

As of now, the U of I System has administered more than 1.5 million tests at its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff