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Chai Launches First Saliva-Based COVID-19 Surveillance Test Kit To Help Schools And Businesses Reopen Safely


90-minute, easy-to-use, RT-qPCR test can be performed outside labs and healthcare facilities


Chai, an innovative biotechnology tools provider with a mission to expand the use and applications of molecular testing, announced today that they are releasing the first saliva-based, pooled COVID-19 surveillance test kit to detect nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test kit is designed to run on the Open qPCR platform and other compatible RT-qPCR instruments. The COVID-19 Surveillance Test Kit delivers results in 90 minutes on an easy-to-use, highly portable instrument. Testing can be performed outside of lab and healthcare environments, broadening COVID-19 detection efforts across businesses, schools, and industrial facilities.

The test kit is intended for surveillance use, where groups of people can be tested to make population-level decisions. Surveillance examples include monitoring closed groups in frequent contact with one another such as classroom cohorts, work shifts, or nursing wards. The surveillance pooled testing format prevents non-specific results from being obtained, which allows the test kit to be run outside of lab and healthcare settings. Pooling also enables processing of up to 5 individuals per sample, or up to 70 individuals per run, which greatly increases testing capacity and conserves testing resources in short supply.

Because it is saliva-based, the COVID-19 Surveillance Test Kit does not require collection with an invasive nasopharyngeal swab. Samples can be reliably self-collected, minimizing the risk of others being exposed to the virus. The ease of saliva collection is key to enabling the widespread, routine testing proposed by experts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People should not have to choose between speed and accuracy. The COVID-19 Surveillance Test Kit uses the CDC-recommended, gold-standard detection method of RT-qPCR to deliver highly sensitive results in 90 minutes so that immediate action can be taken if an infection is detected. The saliva-based, simple workflow make it easier for schools and business owners to test routinely. This test kit will make a meaningful difference in our nation’s ability to slow the spread of COVID,” said Josh Perfetto, CEO of Chai.

The Surveillance Test Kit complements Chai’s Coronavirus Environmental Surface Test Kit, which detects SARS-CoV-2 on high-touch surfaces such as door handles, keyboards, and phones. Environmental surface testing is especially useful in areas exposed to the public, where testing people individually is not practical.

About ChaiChai is a biotechnology company based in Santa Clara, CA focused on bringing molecular PCR-testing to a wide range of environments, from research labs to non-traditional biotechnology settings. Their core molecular technologies have applications in diverse fields and environments, such as breweries, water quality labs, and food facilities. The Open qPCR, their flagship Real-Time PCR machine, is used by the world’s top biomedical universities and can be found in over 60 countries and counting. Chai’s commitment to making molecular testing accessible is evidenced by their open platform, open source, and license-free reagents philosophy.

Learn more about the test kit at Additional information about Chai’s innovative solutions can be found at

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