The WAAY 31 I-Team worked to learn more about the new coronavirus test all Alabama college students must take before returning to campus.
The test requires students to self-administer the sample collection before it's sent to a lab.
Rick Myers, HudsonAlpha President & Science Director, said HudsonAlpha discussed the testing with UAB, but is not involved in the test itself. Myers said the test is accurate as long as the sample is collected properly.
"The test they are doing at UAB is not different than it's essentially the CDC test," he said.
The biggest difference is self-testing. Myers said he thinks it’s the way to make testing more widely available and many different labs, some at HudsonAlpha, are working on those tests.
"If we are going to do this for tens of thousands of people or even hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis, we don't have the medical facilities for people to come in and get swabbed, etc. One of the things that is exciting is it looks like you can do a variety of ways of collecting. One of them is just doing a regular nasal swab rather than going deeply into the nasophryngeal cavity," he said.
Myers explained the test that is run after a sample is collected can be extremely accurate and have a low rate of false positives or negative, however, acquiring the sample will be the biggest challenge.
The GuideSafe program launched by UAB will have in state students go to a local testing site and out of state students will be mailed their test.
"We have to rely on people being honest and actually doing it and working hard to do it. There are ways of controlling once you get the sample whether they collect it or not. There is a positive way to know if someone dipped it in water or something instead," he said.
Myers was emphatic having students safely back on campus will rely more on social behavior than the science.
"I still have some reservations about doing our best about trying to get everyone back to work or school. I have some reservations about how we do that. We need to make sure this works. They basically need to have compliance officers at universities in dorms and fraternities and sororities and wherever people are staying. In order to make this work. I don't know how to solve the social behavior problems as much as I do the scientific one," Myers said.
He said HudsonAlpha is working on other types of sample collection for self-administered tests that include patients coughing into a cup or swishing around a special mouth wash for sample collection. Neither of those options are ready to be rolled out just yet.