Durbin Urges DOD To Adopt Wider Use Of University Of Illinois' COVID-19 Saliva-Based Testing Initiative

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, today urged the Department of Defense (DOD) to adopt SHIELD T3, an innovative system of COVID-19 testing and tracing developed by the University of Illinois to help monitor the health of students as they return to class this fall. In letters to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite, and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Durbin highlighted the benefits of SHIELD T3 – such as rapid results in two to six hours at costs significantly below current alternatives – and urged DOD to adopt it at Illinois military installations such as Naval Station Great Lakes and the Rock Island Arsenal.

“The quick turnaround time for test results is a key in curbing the virus, allowing isolation early enough to limit spread of the infection as well as narrowing down past exposure to allow more-effective contact tracing.  It also identifies and isolates people with asymptomatic cases who would otherwise spread the virus unknowingly,” Durbin wrote. “The University also has expressed interest in partnering with Naval Station Great Lakes and the Rock Island Arsenal to expand the use of SHIELD T3 to these important military facilities.”

Durbin also asked Secretary Esper to also address challenges of scaling up the program due to shortages in the supply chain and prioritization orders issued by the Administration under the Defense Production Act, which caused delivery of critical equipment to be delayed by months and is still unfulfilled.

“I ask that the Joint Acquisition Task Force investigate the delays to see if they can be resolved, and what further steps can be taken to ease the manufacturing constraints,” Durbin wrote.

Full text of today’s letter to Secretary Esper is available here.

Full text of today’s letter to Secretary Braithwaite is available here.

Full text of today’s letter to Secretary McCarthy is available here.